Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Why would I be that mad if Javier Baez wound up re-signing with the Mets?” Aside from the fact it would close the door on even the possibility of the two-time All-Star returning to the Chicago Cubs, it would be the latest condemnation of Tom Ricketts.
Before we bring it full-circle here and connect the dots, let’s bring everyone up to speed. As you’re all no doubt aware, Chicago sent Baez and right-hander Trevor Williams to the Big Apple on July 30 in exchange for Mets’ number 5 prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong. Both had been scuffling in the first half – but, when it comes to Baez at least, everything changed with that trade.
Since joining the Mets, El Mago has been, well, magical, slashing .314/.384/.541 – showing, once again, that when he’s locked in, he’s among the most versatile offensive threats in the game. Better yet, the move to New York has paired Baez up with longtime friend and countryman Francisco Lindor, something both had talked about for years.
"“I think me and Lindor are closer than KB and Rizzo,” Báez told NBC Sports Chicago recently. “It’s a really special thing here. … I would love to stay here and play with him.”"
During that interview, which is definitely worth a read, the former Cubs infielder talks about the years he spent in Chicago with Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant, otherwise known as ‘Bryzzo’, and looks ahead at a potential future alongside Lindor in their own take on a dynamic one-two punch.
Whether or not that comes to fruition remains to be seen. But it’s abundantly clear that, once again, the Mets could be in for a tumultuous offseason. Owner Steve Cohen has been wildly displeased with his team’s performance, especially after going and shelling out that 10-year, $341 million deal to Lindor last offseason.
None of that blame, though, lands at the feet of Baez who, as I said before, has been everything the Mets asked for and then some here in the second half.
"“I think everyone in the room thinks that this team is going to be better with him in the future,” Mets manager Miguel Rojas said. “But there are other people that are probably going to have to make those decisions, including Javy.”"
Rather than ride their star shortstop deep into October, New York will be watching from the same place as the Cubs – home. Ace Jacob deGrom is done for the year and the clock is ticking on the 2021 season. Looking ahead, it’s not easy to envision a scenario where Baez calls Queens home for the foreseeable future, either.
Chicago Cubs: Steve Cohen could make Tom Ricketts look like a fool
Cohen will likely flip over his front office this winter, with his sights set on prominent executives around the game – potentially including former Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein. When that new front office regime comes in, it may want as close to a clean slate as possible – meaning if the Mets don’t address this early on in the offseason, complications could arise.
But let’s assume the new regime wants Baez and Lindor up the middle for years to come. The sheer financials on such a move could prove detrimental to the team’s long-term success. You’re already paying Lindor $34 million, on average, annually. Adding $20-plus million for Baez ties up more than $50 million in payroll. Oh, and deGrom costs in excess of $32 million annually for the next three years, as well.
That means the Mets would be looking at at least $85 million tied up in those three players alone. Now that doesn’t mean Cohen won’t throw down his checkbook and make it happen. But it’s not an easy decision to make. And if he does put his money where his mouth is and lock up Baez long-term, Cubs fans will undoubtedly eye Ricketts and his unwillingness to flex his financial muscles with disdain and anger for years to come.