The Rundown: Basing Potential Báez Extension on Tatis Jr. Deal, Arrieta Excited to Be Back, Maybin Returns, Sunday Baseball Notes

For some reason, Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune decided to use the record contract Fernando Tatís Jr. signed with the Padres as the barometer for what it may cost to extend Javier Báez. The Cubs shortstop, who will earn $11.6 million this season, probably won’t jump to $24 million in AAV via extension or free agency. Interestingly, San Diego is paying out a total of $784 million in guaranteed dollars to Tatis, Manny Machado, and Eric Hosmer. The Friars are an elite second baseman shy of becoming baseball’s first billion-dollar infield.

Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as saying Tatís set the market with the 14-year, $340 million extension he signed last week. Likewise, it would be completely unfair to judge Báez on his brutal 2020 campaign. Let’s not forget that the man was the MVP runner-up in 2018 and was a 3.4 WAR player in 2019.

Barring extensions and including Báez, there will be five all-star shortstops entering free agency after this season. The others — Francisco Lindor, Corey Seager, Carlos Correa, and Trevor Story — should provide better contractual comparisons. El Mago is the least productive of the bunch based on OPS+ and though he lists all kinds of intangibles on his resume, those don’t necessarily translate to more dollars. Earning the first Gold Glove of his career should help, though. Then again, the Cubs are incredibly talented at shortstop throughout their system.

That Jed Hoyer hopes to extend his core group is probably more of a timing issue than anything else. In addition to Báez, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo are coming off their worst seasons as professionals, then there’s the uncertainty of the next collective bargaining agreement. One would think Rizzo will be the easiest to extend, and Báez has indicated previously he is willing to work out some type of deal to stay in Chicago.

Looking at things from a very high level, it’s hard to justify the Cubs’ unwillingness to spend like the Padres considering their respective market sizes. Perhaps it’s just a matter of confidence in talent. Would you rather have an infield of Machado, Tatís, and Hosmer, or Bryant, Báez, and Rizzo? If Hoyer could lock up all three for less than $550 million, and that’s not a real stretch in the current baseball economy, it should be considered a coup of sorts.

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

Inquiring minds demand answers.

Updates on Nine

  1. Tatís earned the top spot among baseball’s best shortstops with Báez six spots behind. Bear in mind, the list is based on last season’s stats only. Shockingly, Yankees star Gleyber Torres dropped all the way to No. 10.
  2. Xander Bogaerts could benefit more from the Tatis extension than anybody else. The Red Sox shortstop has an opt-out after the 2022 season and 340 million or more reasons to exercise said option.
  3. Padres GM A.J. Preller is hoping to avoid a repeat of 2015, the last time he went all-in with San Diego’s payroll to earn the nickname “Rock Star GM.” The Friars went 74-88 that year, fired manager Bud Black before the All-Star break, and were big sellers at the trade deadline.
  4. Dodgers pitcher David Price and Giants catcher Buster Posey are among a handful of players who sat out the 2020 season but are excited to get to work this year.
  5. You can’t ask for a better debut than the one Florida Atlantic freshman Caleb Pendleton had: two plate appearances and two grand slams in the first inning of his first collegiate game.
  6. New Cardinals third baseman Nolan Arenado is excited to play in St. Louis, citing the “Cardinal culture” as the main reason he once again finds pleasure as a professional ballplayer. Perhaps it’s true that money isn’t always the most motivating factor, at least for some players.
  7. The idea that professional athletes should just “shut up and play” is abhorrently irksome, but in the case of Trevor Bauer it may be warranted. Sometimes it’s more important to let your play do the talking, rather than fighting to get the last word in any conversation or debate.
  8. Former Cubs closer Brandon Morrow is excited to be back with the Dodgers and said he hasn’t felt this healthy since 2018. He is open to closing games for Los Angeles if needed, adding that he felt “locked in mechanically” after about 10 bullpen sessions.
  9. Fresh off a recent contract extension, Dave Martinez, enters Spring Training as the first Nationals manager to enter his fourth season leading the team. “Everybody talks about a window, a window, a window,” Martinez said Saturday. “I don’t see that window here. I just see us continuing to grow together.”

Sliding Into Home

The results from Friday’s procedure came back pretty quickly and the “concerning blemish” on my upper chest is now a little more worrisome. I’ll be back in surgery on March 12 to have surrounding tissue removed. I do not know how much they intend to take just yet. Keep pushing, right? That’s what Kevin Cronin would say, anyway.

Springsteen is Baseball

The new album by Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band, Letter to You, is the band’s best in a couple decades. Nice to see the Boss and his friends getting back to their big-sounding, anthemic roots. Hopefully a tour will be in the works once we’ve beaten the pandemic. The lead single and title cut is fantastic.

Extra Innings

Career WAR, OPS+, and DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) of this year’s pending free agent shortstops. DRS is a theoretical value, so I don’t personally like that metric, but it at least gives us a comparison point.

  1. Lindor: 28.7, 117, 46
  2. Correa: 26.3, 126, 42
  3. Story 21.0, 114, 45
  4. Seager: 17.8, 129, -5
  5. Báez: 17.7, 102, 46 (10 as a second baseman)

They Said It

  • “From everything I’ve seen, there’s no reason that we can’t succeed at the highest level again. Regardless of getting rid of a couple guys, or not re-signing a guy, the talent’s still here. The mindset has to be just that.”Jake Arrieta
  • “I don’t think there’s an unwillingness to work or change. These guys are really, really good at coming to work every day and trying to be the best version of themselves. It’s about getting the right approach and the right mentality as well as training a little bit tougher.”David Ross

Sunday Walk Up Song

Let’s Get It Started by Black Eyed Peas – Cactus League game start this week and temperatures in the Midwest could hit the 45-50 degree range on Tuesday and Wednesday. With COVID-19 numbers rapidly tumbling, perhaps there is a light at the end of what has been an incredibly dark tunnel.

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