The Chicago Cubs will be sellers at the MLB trade deadline and star shortstop Javier Baez is among the most coveted candidates for contenders looking for upgrades before July 30.
Chicago’s 28-year-old shortstop is just a few years removed from winning the 2016 NLCS MVP honors, hoisting the World Series trophy and making consecutive MLB All-Star Games. But with the Cubs tearing things down, his days are numbered in Chicago.
Let’s examine three potential landing spots for the beloved shortstop.
Javier Baez traded to Cincinnati Reds
If Baez doesn’t sign a long-term extension with Chicago, a reasonable decision, he should be on a new team by July 31. Otherwise, he will hit the open market and there’s very little chance one of the top MLB free agents returns to the Windy City. The Cubs need to trade Baez for the best return possible, even if that means he plays for the Cincinnati Reds.
- Cincinnati Reds trade: OF Michael Siani (CIN’s No. 5 prospect), RHP Riley O’Brien (CIN’s No. 13 prospect) and OF Ariel Almonte (CIN’s No. 23 prospect)
- Chicago Cubs trade: Javier Baez
Baez is a perfect fit for the Reds. Entering July 19, Cincinnati’s shortstops ranked 29th in fWAR (-0.3), 28th in Spd (2.4) and 26th in OPS (.623). Meanwhile, Baez is worth 2 fWAR this season, carries a .780 OPS, 6.6 Spd and is outstanding defensively.
The price to acquire Baez is lowered because he is still a half-season rental and teams will only give up so much for a few months of a flawed (37% strikeout rate, .288 OBP) player. But the Reds’ farm system is deep and this trade gives them a fighting shot against the Milwaukee Brewers.
New York Mets get creative with injuries
There’s no timetable for Francisco Lindor to return. Even in a best-case scenario, the Grade 2 quad strain will sideline him into the middle of August. Considering all the injuries the Mets have dealt with this season and their woes at the plate, a Javier Baez trade makes sense.
- New York Mets send: OF Khalil Lee (NYM’s No. 7 prospect), RHP Robert Dominguez (NYM’s No. 13 prospect) and RHP Yennsy Diaz (NYM’s No. 26 prospect)
- Chicago Cubs send: Javier Baez
Until Lindor returns, Baez could start at shortstop and thrive. While he won’t consistently reach base, Citi Field will be delighted by the power display he puts on and his defensive wizardry generates its own excitement. When Lindor is fully healthy, things get fun.
While Baez hasn’t appeared in a game at second base since 2018, the young infielder has logged more than 1,800 career innings at the position. If the Mets want him to play the hot corner, Baez has 629.1 innings at third base. The glovework at shortstop is undeniable, but this is a player who the Mets can get creative with .
Oakland A’s land Javier Baez
The Athletics might try and justify Elvis Andrus remaining their everyday shortstop, citing his improvements in recent months. While it’s true he has improved upon an ugly April, things aren’t that much better. In the last 30 days, Andrus owns just a .260/.279/.370 slash line with average defense and very little run production.
- Oakland A’s trade: OF Luis Barrera (OAK’s No. 7 prospect) and RHP Jeff Criswell (OAK’s No. 8 prospect)
- Chicago Cubs trade: Javier Baez
Oakland isn’t known for taking on huge contracts, but Baez comes at a reasonable rate. He’s owed the remaining portion of his $11.65 million salary this season, so the A’s would be on the hook for less than $6 million.
Putting Baez and Matt Chapman together would create an unmatched defensive combination. It would be a nice boost for a pitching staff that is really carrying this team. Just as appreciated, the A’s lineup would add a player who can drive in runs.