The standing of extension talks between the Cubs and every of Javier Báez, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo has been one of many greatest tales surrounding the workforce over the previous couple years. There have been some public discussions between the Cubs and Báez throughout the 2019-20 offseason, and Buster Olney of ESPN now sheds mild on these discussions.
The Cubs supplied Báez an extension “within the vary of $180MM” after the 2019 season, Olney reviews. After all, the two-time All-Star declined that proposal and the perimeters haven’t but managed to come back to phrases on a multi-year deal. The Cubs and Báez in the end settled on a $10MM wage to keep away from arbitration in 2020 (previous to proration) and agreed on an $11.65MM deal for 2021 this previous offseason.
There are many obstacles standing in the way in which of Báez securing such a lofty deal at this level. Income losses because of the intervening COVID-19 pandemic affected loads of groups’ willingness to spend this previous winter, the Cubs chief amongst them. Chicago opened 2021 with an estimated payroll simply shy of $148MM, per Cot’s Baseball Contracts, far under their $203MM outlay within the season earlier than the pandemic. Shedding wage was little doubt an element within the choice to commerce Yu Darvish to the Padres in a take care of very little recent precedent.
Much more considerably, although, Báez’s private manufacturing has cratered since that offseason. On the time of the reported supply, the star shortstop was coming off a two-year run by which he’d hit .286/.321/.544 (123 wRC+) whereas enjoying high-end protection. He’d earned All-Star alternatives in each 2018 and 2019 and completed because the Nationwide League MVP runner-up within the first of these years. It’s straightforward to see why the Cubs felt snug investing in Báez long-term and why the participant was keen to guess on himself persevering with to carry out at an elite degree.
That’s not what’s occurred, at the very least so far. Over the previous two years, Báez is hitting simply .201/.241/.376 in 291 plate appearances. Controlling the strike zone has by no means been his calling card, however Báez’s 2.7% stroll charge and 34.4% strikeout charge in that point are untenable figures. The 28-year-old has continued to play a robust shortstop, however his 63 wRC+ is fourth-worst among the many 190 gamers to take at the very least 200 plate appearances during the last two years.
There had been some hope Báez might rebound from his 2020 struggles in an extended, extra regular season. His backside line outcomes have certainly been higher (albeit nonetheless below-average) because of the 4 residence runs he’s popped. However Báez’s underlying course of metrics are equally or extra regarding. His 44.6% strikeout charge is up twelve factors relative to final season, whereas his walks have fallen even additional.
Most regarding, Báez has made contact on lower than half his swings (48.7%) on this season’s early going. For reference, he linked on slightly greater than two-thirds of his cuts throughout his peak years, and even made contact at a 64.2% clip final 12 months. Solely Sam Hilliard has a decrease contact rate among the many 259 gamers with 30+ plate appearances, with each different hitter within the league placing the bat on the ball at the very least 54.9% of the time.
There’s loads of time for Báez to proper the ship, however he’ll must make considerably extra contact within the coming months if he’s to safe an enormous deal from the Cubs or every other workforce. The 2 sides stay in touch, with Báez reiterating in February he hopes to work out an extension with Chicago fairly than go elsewhere in free company.