This former Cubs fan favorite is turning heads this spring - for all the wrong reasons

Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

Jed Hoyer got raked over the coals when he traded Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez at the 2021 trade deadline. Chicago Cubs fans then dragged him that offseason when he elected not to bring any of the three back. Several years later, his decision-making looks better than ever, especially when it comes to Bryant and Baez.

Last week, Bryant opened up about his free agency decision, seeming to express some regret on signing his mega-deal with the Colorado Rockies. I won't re-hash that here, but instead, will focus on Baez and his ill-fated signing with the Detroit Tigers.

Since joining the Tigers, Baez has been a shell of his former self, batting just .230/.273/.361, checking in with a 77 OPS+ in over 1,110 plate appearances. Defensive metrics have soured on him at times from his peak years with the Cubs, as well, leaving Detroit with what's become a massive $98 million anchor on the books in his contract.

Javier Baez' hard work hasn't translated to on-field results

“He’s working really hard behind the scenes,” Tigers president of baseball operations Scott Harris said late last season. “I think there are some things that we can change about his work, about the specific things that he’s working on to make some adjustments that help him both at the plate and in the field.”

So far, his behind-the-scenes work and offseason efforts haven't netted any results this spring. Baez has just 1 hit in 18 at-bats and he's struck out in 9 of them - a staggering 50% rate. Spring training results don't always translate to regular season performance, but it's a troubling sign for a Tigers team desperate to get some value out of the former All-Star infielder.

Meanwhile, the Cubs are set for the foreseeable future up the middle with Nico Hoerner and Dansby Swanson under control. And the mean the Cubs traded Baez for, Pete Crow-Armstrong, is knocking on the door to the big leagues, ranked as one of the best prospects in the game. Hoyer got it right - and the Tigers' decision to sign Baez has the makings of one of the worst contracts we've seen in recent memory.