Some would argue that Javier Baez is the best player on the Cubs right now. After all, since the start of the 2018 season, Baez leads all Cubs players with an fWAR of 7.2, nearly twice as much as Anthony Rizzo, who ranks second among Cubs position players with an fWAR of 3.9. Baez finished 2nd in the National League MVP vote in 2018, and looks well on his way to another top-5 finish in 2019.
While Baez has never won a Gold Glove, he’s routinely regarded as one of the best defensive infielders in baseball. Now that he’s seemingly entrenched at shortstop for the foreseeable future, 2019 could be the first year Baez wins his first Gold Glove. But the glove was never in question.
Baez was one of the best hitters in all of Minor League Baseball prior to his arrival on the North Side in 2014, hitting 37 home runs between Double-A and Triple-A the season before. However, once Javy joined the Major League club, his hitting was abysmal, striking out in 44.6% of his at-bats in his rookie season. Fast forward to 2019, and Baez ranks 11th in baseball with a 157 wRC+.
El Mago can seemingly do it all. He plays Gold Glove-caliber defense at three infield positions, he can smack the ball all over the park, he can run the bases exceptionally well, and he even sprinkles in a little magic here and there. Now the question bears asking, what’s he worth?
For all the superlatives in Javy’s game, he does have a few warts. He doesn’t get on base as much as you would like, and that’s evident by the fact that he only walks at a 5.4% clip. His plate discipline also leaves something to be desired, as he swings at 44.4% of pitches outside of the zone, the third highest rate in baseball. And if we’re going to exclude the 2019 season, Javy only has one year of superb offensive production. Some, including myself, had wondered if 2018 was a fluke season for Baez, but with his fantastic start to 2019, it looks as if he has put those reservations to rest.
When examining extension possibilities, it’s important to look at recent deals to set the market, and one person comes to mind, Alex Bregman. Like Bregman, Javy is a power bat that plays exceptional defense on the left side of the infield. While Bregman is superior offensively due to his ability to draw walks at an elite clip, Baez closes the gap with better defense at a premier position and slightly better base running. A week before the 2019 season began, the Astros rewarded Bregman with a five-year, $100 million contract, buying out the rest of his three arbitration years and securing him for two would-be free agency years. This is a good baseline for a theoretical extension for Baez. Similar to Bregman, Baez has two years of arbitration left before he can hit the free agency market. Both players are also coming off a top-5 MVP finish.
With an incredibly stagnant past couple years of free agency, we saw a flurry of extensions signed this March, including Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks. Could Javier Baez be next?
What do you think of a 6-year, $115 million contract extension for Javier Baez?
This poll is closed
That won’t be enough to sign the legend that is El Mago.