MLB Rumors: Javier Baez and the Detroit Tigers have agreed to a free agent deal worth $140 million over six years, per multiple reports.
Baez, one of the Big Five shortstops in this year’s free agent class, was the 9th overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, and had spent his entire career with the Chicago Cubs until he was traded to the New York Mets at the trade deadline in 2021. Baez is a terrific defender who also has big time power — he put up a combined 13.0 bWAR in 2018-19, finishing second in the MVP voting in 2018, and he had a 4.6 bWAR between the Cubs and Mets in 2021.
Baez also had a very poor 2020 season, however, and has very poor plate discipline numbers — he led the majors in strikeouts in 2021 while drawing just 28 walks (2 of which were intentional), and for his career he has a slash line of .264/.307/.477, with 29 walks per 162 games against 179 Ks. While he is still young — he turns 29 tomorrow — Baez is someone who I was very leery of the Rangers potentially signing, given the contact issues.
The Tigers were thought to be prioritizing Houston Astros free agent shortstop Carlos Correa, and at first blush this would seem to take them out of the mix for Correa, but as the Texas Rangers showed the past couple of days in grabbing both Marcus Semien and Corey Seager, that’s not necessarily a given. Baez played second base for the Mets after they acquired him, with Francisco Lindor at shortstop, and the Tigers could put Baez at second or third if they get Correa, or could move Correa to third with Baez at shortstop.
UPDATE — Reports indicate that Baez has an opt out after Year Two, and has a 10 team no-trade list each year.