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What does the Fernando Tatis Jr. contract extension mean for Javier Baez?

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The Cubs shortstop will be a free agent after 2021.

Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Before you tell me I’m crazy for posing the question in the headline to this post, the answer to it is clearly “Nothing.” You caught me; it’s clickbait.

Fernando Tatis Jr. is six years younger than Javier Baez and he has already posted nearly 8 bWAR more than Javy had through their age-21 seasons.

Tatis is clearly a generational talent and the Padres paid him as such, with his 14-year, $340 million contract extension that likely keeps him a Padre for life, although:

Andy McCullough says he’s joking, but who knows?

Anyway, now that I’ve got your attention with this provocative headline, what exactly would a Javy Baez contract extension look like? Cubs President of Baseball Operations Jed Hoyer has said he wants to talk extensions during spring training:

“I think spring has always been a great time to have those discussions,” said Hoyer, who also did not rule out trades of any of the core players during the spring. “Some guys don’t like it to bleed into the last couple weeks, and some guys are willing to have those discussions [beyond that]. But we’ll certainly have those discussions in spring.”

The comment on trades was made on February 8. It is my opinion, given Hoyer’s later statement that the Opening Day roster will likely have players who are currently on it and not others, that the core will get its chance to contend this year. If that fails by the trading deadline, at that point you might see some deals made, not before.

Baez had a terrible year in 2020, in part (at least per Javy) due to not being able to see in-game video to make adjustments. That will be remedied this year, as players will have access to dugout iPads where they can watch in-game video (with catcher signals blurred).

If Baez returns to his 2018-19 level of production — and he averaged 6 bWAR over those teo seasons, what would be a reasonable offer to a player who will turn 29 in December?

A lot of Baez’ value is in what I would call “quick-twitch” muscle reactions, both in the field and on the basepaths. That’s something that might decline fairly quickly as he gets into his 30s — he’ll turn 29 in December.

So I don’t think I would offer him more than a five-year extension. In Javy’s three arbitration years he earned $5.2 million (2019), $10 million (2020, before proration) and $11 million (2021). While he is a star player — a two-time All-Star with a Gold Glove and a second-place MVP finish in 2018 — he’s not at the superstar level of Tatis, in my view.

So how about this? Five years, $90 million (averaging $18 million a year) with bonuses or escalators for (for example) All-Star appearances and awards that could bring it to a total of $100 million. That would take Javy through his age-33 season and give the Cubs all of his best years, and 13 years overall with the team.

Who says no?

Poll

The Javier Baez contract extension proposal in this article...

This poll is closed

  • 46%
    Great! Get it done, Jed!
    (375 votes)
  • 39%
    It will cost more than that in either years or dollars or both to keep Javy
    (318 votes)
  • 11%
    Let him walk to free agency
    (91 votes)
  • 2%
    Something else (leave in comments)
    (20 votes)
804 votes total Vote Now