Cubs: The last word on the lack of Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Anthony Rizzo deals
By Paul Seifert
Cubs: Javier Baez has a tremendous ceiling, but can be inconsistent
That defense, the tags, the range, the arm, it all came together in these past two seasons. The career 3.1 UZR-150 and 48 DRS include his absolutely putrid 2014 and 2015 seasons. Francisco Lindor rates a wicked career 11.1 UZR-150 but only 38 DRS. Fernando Tatis, Jr, is still young and learning the craft so his -4.5 UZR-150 and -3 DRS will improve. In fact, with that $340 million contract the Padres are banking on it.
Then there’s the baserunning. I’ve seen Rickey Henderson, Billy Hamilton, Tim Raines, and even the Cubs’ own Tony Campana wreak havoc on the bases. But no one does what Javy does. He lives in the heads of every pitcher, catcher, and defensive player on the field, and he does that all at the same time. There is no metric for this kind of thing, but as we saw this past Saturday, it’s real.
It would be more real if he got on base more often. The reason Baez isn’t getting Lindor or Tatis, Jr. money is the career .304 OBP and that murderous strikeout/walk ratio. Baez has nearly as many Ks in three full seasons from 2017 to 2019 as Lindor has in his whole career.
One could argue that El Mago is better all around than $20 million AAV Xander Bogaerts. But you could also argue that Baez is not as good as say, $13.750 million AAV Trevor Story, and he’s a free agent. All three are 28 years old. Would the Cubs give up some El Mago performance for the more steady output of a Trevor Story-type player?
With all three it’ll depend as much on the individual strengths and weaknesses as what direction the Cubs decide to go in after 2021. The upper farm system is thin in all three spots and free agency isn’t attractive either. Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer has some tough decisions ahead.