The Hot Stove has heated up in a hurry this week – and while nothing is close or even confirmed, we’ve already seen Corey Seager linked to the Chicago Cubs on multiple occasions. Seager – no doubt – would be a fantastic fit for a club such as the Cubs whose finances are far more flexible than they have been in recent years.
Amongst the swirling Seager rumors, other reports raise the possibility of a potential Javier Baez reunion. In any case, it’s a sure fire bet Chicago is attacking the shortstop market this winter. After adding Wade Miley via waivers and immediately picking up his $10 million option, the Cubs proved they won’t sit by idly this winter. But when it comes to Seager and Baez, who would you rather have manning shortstop for the team in the years to come?
Prior to being dealt on July 31, Baez slashed .248/.292/.484 with 22 HR and 65 RBI in a Cubs uniform. Of course, Chicago sent many of the remaining key members from the 2016 championship squad packing during that 24-hour span, beginning a top-to-bottom overhaul of the roster.
Funny thing about Baez, after struggling mightily for the first half of the year to the point that the Cubs were not willing to re-sign him to the $200M+ deal that he was reportedly seeking, the two-time All-Star wound up playing like the type of player that absolutely deserved that kind of money down the stretch.
In the second half, Baez looked like his former NL MVP runner-up self, slashing .299/.371/.515. More impressively, in 2021, Baez recorded a 2.7 WAR in 91 games for the Cubs while recording 1.9 in just 47 games, nearly half the number of games, in New York. That is actually higher than Seager’s 3.7 WAR for 2021, but there are still important factors in considering who to sign long-term.
Chicago Cubs know what both Corey Seager and Javier Baez have to offer
With Baez, you get what you get. A little more power (.212 career ISO) than Seager (.207 career ISO) but significant hot and cold streaks. When Baez is in the deep freeze he strikes out at a ridiculous clip but is MVP-caliber when he gets locked in. Seager, on the other hand, will stay generally more consistent but not quite at the ultimate spark plug level that Baez is capable of when he gets hot.
Seager won National League Rookie of the year in 2016 and has earned two All-Star nods to go along with a pair of Silver Slugger awards. Since his call-up, he has slashed a very respectable .297/.367/.504. In fact, his worst single-season average checks in at just .267 – and he still finished the year with a 103 OPS+. This year became the second year in a row Seager hit at least .300 with a line of .306/.394/.521 and the fourth time overall, though in 2015 Seager appeared in just 27 games but hit .337 in the span. At Wrigley, Seager has slashed .261/.327/.370, a tick up from Baez but in a much smaller sample size of 52 plate appearances compared to Baez’ 1,527.
Another fantastic trait for Seager is his lefty/righty splits. Seager hits for average against both with a .281 mark against southpaws and .305 against righties. Defensively, Seager has committed 68 errors in his 636 career games compared to Baez’ 69 errors in 862 games. Therefore, you can give an edge to Baez in the fielding department. Baez is also a wizard on the basepaths, averaging 15 stolen bases a year whereas Seager has stolen just 12 for his career.
We know what Baez brought to the table in Chicago during his tenure with the Cubs. However, the Cubs are desperate for consistency at the plate and Seager is a guy who does just that. Sometimes, change is a good a thing. Yes, he’s going to cost more – a lot more – but Corey Seager is the man for the job regardless.