Cubs thanking their lucky stars watching Javier Baez struggle

(Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)
(Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images) /

When the Cubs traded Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez late last July, I know I told myself it didn’t matter because that didn’t rule out at least one of the three returning at year’s end via free agency.

Instead, somewhat surprisingly, all three wound up signing elsewhere, with Rizzo returning to the Bronx, Kris Bryant signing a massive deal with Colorado that shocked the baseball world and Baez heading to the Motor City on a six-year, $140 million deal. When Chicago failed to come away with the guy most assumed would end up in Detroit when the offseason started in Carlos Correa, tempers flared and emotions were high.

I’m not saying the contributions of Andrelton Simmons (-0.4 bWAR) and Jonathan Villar (-0.2 bWAR) are acceptable because, frankly, that’s not a position the best litigator could defend at this point. Both have been disasters – but at least they’re affordable ones. Combined, the two will bring home just $10 million in 2022.

Meanwhile, Baez is making $20 million in his first season in Detroit and has only just been more valuable than Villar and Simmons, with a 0.1 bWAR as of Sunday morning. He carries a 50 wRC+ with just a .228 OBP, just completely failing to live up to what the Tigers hoped they were getting when they handed him that contract.

Now, you can’t evaluate a multi-year deal two months into year one. But people thought this team might make some noise in 2022. Instead, Detroit has a -64 run differential and is 9 1/2 games back of Cleveland in the American League Central. As a team, the Tigers have a .596 OPS, the worst not only in the AL, but all of baseball. In other words, things aren’t going well for AJ Hinch’s club right now.

Cubs have gotten quality from Nico Hoerner at shortstop this season

As for the Cubs, shortstop looks to belong to Nico Hoerner, at least for the time being. Of course, with Hoerner, it’s a matter of whether or not he’s healthy and on the field. When he has been, he’s been great, flirting with a .300 average (although he’s got to improve upon his 2.9 percent walk rate), and showcasing defensive abilities many questioned coming into the year.

Next. Kilian, Swarmer offer a glimpse of the future for the Cubs. dark

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That’s not to say the shortstop question in Chicago is settled. There’s a loaded class of free agent shortstops looming at year’s end and the Cubs figure to be players in that market. But if you’re asking me right now how I feel about not giving Baez that six-year contract? It’s early, but I’m not losing any sleep over it given how his Tigers tenure has begun.