The Rundown: Báez Not Getting Much Love on Market, Zastryzny Eyes Return to Bigs, Recent Deals Indicate Pitching Will Be Expensive

Javier Báez is getting a lot less love than he deserves this winter. Though the Mets remain the favorites to sign the exciting shortstop, a lot of teams — Cubs included — will be interested in upgrading their middle infield this season. That Báez is somewhat of a consolation prize is equally intriguing and puzzling.

Since he first appeared in the big leagues, Báez has been a fan favorite in Chicago for his creativity on the basepaths, his magician-like defense, the mammoth home runs from that powerful swing, or his smile and attitude. Outside the general vicinity of the Friendly Confines, however, the All-Star shortstop loses a lot of his luster. In fact, if you add open-market players Chris Taylor and Eduardo Escobar to the mix, the possibility exists that Báez could be one of the last of seven shortstops to sign this winter.

Some reports indicated he was seeking a $200 million contract extension from Jed Hoyer earlier this year. No one has mentioned that type of market for Báez since the season ended, with most reports predicting a deal in the $100-150 million range with an AAV ranging between $20-25 million.

“Even at his best, though, Báez is only about as good as the other four shortstops on this list are in an average year,” wrote Michael Bauman of The Ringer. “He’s the only one who doesn’t really have the potential to carry an offense, and his consistent lack of on-base ability is a weakness even when all other aspects of his game are strong.”

Perhaps that’s why his projected market value varies so wildly. It’s also a good indication as to why so many analysts are having a tough time figuring out where he will eventually sign. The Red Sox are the latest team said to be kicking the tires on the magnetic infielder, but they’re among many interested teams per MLB Network’s Jon Heyman. Of course, Boston already has Xander Bogaerts, so any interest in Báez would mean moving him back to second base.

The Cubs have barely been mentioned as a suitor for Báez though end-of-season reports indicated that he and Hoyer may have been pretty close on an extension before the trade to the Mets. If Hoyer intends to stay nimble while waiting for the market to come to him with regard to offseason signings, perhaps Báez could be one player to fall right into his lap.

Cubs News & Notes

From the Front Office

“I want us to be excellent decision-makers and excellent player-developers. When I think about what our job is in the simplest form, we need to make really good decisions, and we need to make players better.” – Jed Hoyer

“Winning is the ultimate goal. But what are the attributes that are actually pushing towards that? The Cubs are doing great work. They existed without me for a full year. Without a GM for a full year. So my hope is that I’m additive to the process and additive to getting towards that ultimate vision of bringing back champion baseball to Chicago.” – Carter Hawkins

Wednesday Stove

Kevin Cash of the Rays and Gabe Kapler of the Giants are this year’s AL and NL Managers of the Year.

Now that the Mets have a GM, they need a manager. Brad Ausmus, Joe Espada, and Eric Chavez could be high atop new executive Billy Eppler’s list.

In their first big move of the offseason, the Angels agreed to a one-year, $21-million deal with Noah Syndergaard. Because the starter had a qualifying offer attached to his free agency, Anaheim will forfeit its second-round draft pick and $500,00 of IFA bonus money.

José Berríos and the Blue Jays have agreed on a seven-year, $131 million extension, pending a physical.

Based on the contracts Berríos and Syndergaard signed, pitching could be a little more expensive than most thought. Contrarily, it may just be the best way for front offices to strike ahead of any potential lockout next month.

Syndergaard going to Anaheim leaves new Mets GM Billy Eppler with the task of finding starting pitching, something that proved difficult for him while he was with the Angels.

The Yankees and A’s are reportedly discussing a deal involving Matt Olson, at least in a preliminary form. No other players have been mentioned.

Jm Bowden of MLB Radio and The Athletic believes Juan Soto will end up with the Yankees or Dodgers, possibly before he hits free agency.

The Yankees may be the biggest suitor for Carlos Correa, and manager Aaron Boone indicated he has no concerns with past accusations regarding the Astros’ cheating scandal.

As expected, Rockies shortstop Trevor Story has rejected the team’s qualifying offer.

Story or Marcus Semien could be the favorites to replace Correa in Houston.

It appears New York has no shot at free-agent pitcher Marcus Stroman. In 2019, Yankees GM said Stroman is “probably not a difference-maker.”

Stroman could be a person of interest for the Cardinals. It will never happen.

Everybody in the AL Central is gunning for the White Sox this winter.

Extra Innings

Pete Crow-Armstrong, the young outfielder acquired in the Báez trade, has a pretty impressive swing as he works back from surgery on his non-throwing shoulder.

They Said It

  • “I fell in love with [the Cubs’] philosophy on development and kind of that holistic approach to pitching or to development. It’s about knowing the biomechanics side of things, the pitch package side of things, the strength side of things, and the throwing programming.” – Moskos
  • “The amount of information that is available to a Major League pitching coach now is insane. So I think having — from my perspective — guys that can really support our group and own one area … it’ll make us the best version of ourselves and get the best version of the players that we can.”Tommy Hottovy

Walk-Up Song

I Don’t Know by Ruth Brown – Brown and the Ray-ettes? That’s a helluva seductive combination.

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