Mar 7, 2013; Mesa, AZ, USA; Chicago Cubs shortstop Javier Baez (70) doubles during the ninth inning against the Chicago White Sox at HoHoKam Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Javier Baez could be a franchise altering get for the Mets

Although Ruben Tejada has outperformed the low expectations that were attached to him entering the 2014 season, the Mets are still in need of an upgrade at shortstop. While Tejada has gotten on base at a solid clip, he still ranks near the bottom of the majors in too many offensive categories to be viewed as a long-term solution. The biggest issue, is Tejada’s almost total lack of power.

In the search to replace Tejada, or at least relegate him to backup status, lots of names have been thrown around.

Prior to the season, the Mets were linked to Nick Franklin of Seattle and Didi Gregorius of Arizona. A few weeks ago, Starlin Castro‘s name started to pop up as someone the Mets might be able to pry away from the Cubs.

On Monday, another name emerged. According to industry sources, Cubs shortstop prospect Javier Baez is a “realistic target” for the Mets.

So, who is Javier Baez?

Some thoughts from the experts at Baseball Prospectus:

Baez has franchise altering power, and assuming the hit tool can play average, he’s going to be extremely valuable. There are certainly some questions about his approach, but I think the realistic slash line looks similar to Nelson Cruz. On the left side of the infield, that’s outstanding.

The ceiling is Gary Sheffield. The floor could be any powerful young player who fails to make adjustments at the major league level once the league sees him the first time around. That’s the key. Baez is going to come up and amaze everyone for a little while because he’s ridiculously talented. Then the league will get a book on him and pitch him differently. What happens from there will determine his future. If he adjusts back after the league adjusts to him, it’s on.

One front office source told me that thinks Baez has hall of fame potential. No don’t go crazy with one projection, but if you really believe in the bat–meaning you think he will reach his offensive projections–35+ home runs is possible, all from a left-side of the diamond home. This is an extreme opinion, but not all that crazy when it comes to potential. Javier Baez could have a very special bat; the hand/eye, the bat speed, the raw strength are elite. If he puts it all together, he could be one of the best players in the game. If he stays healthy and consistent once he achieves that level, the hyperbole and hype of the present won’t seem so crazy.

Franchise altering power, Gary Sheffield ceiling, Hall of Fame potential. That all adds up to make the 21-year-old Baez the fifth ranked prospect in all of baseball according to BP.

As is the case with pretty much every high ceiling player, there’s risk attached to Baez. It revolves mostly around him being able to refine his approach at the plate and cut down his strikeout rate.

So far this season for Triple-A Iowa, Baez has hit .240/.305/.449 with 14 home runs and 55 RBI in 348 at-bats. The average and OBP are a bit concerning, but much less so when you consider that Baez is one of the youngest players in the league.

Also concerning is Baez’ strikeout rate, which sits at 31.6 %.

When you dig deeper, though, you’ll see that Baez has improved his strikeout rate each month as the season has gone on:

April: 34.9 %
May: 34.5 %
June: 29.3 %
July: 26.0 %

For comparisons sake, Giancarlo Stanton currently has a career strikeout rate of 28.0 %.

With the Cubs having just traded for shortstop Addison Russell, and with Starlin Castro under contract at a reasonable rate for the next several years, Baez could be expendable. That doesn’t mean, however, that he’ll come cheap.

In order for the Mets to pry Baez away, they would very likely have to part with either Noah Syndergaard or Zack Wheeler. The Cubs may want more than a one-for-one deal for Baez, at which point the Mets would have to consider just how far they’re willing to go to acquire the potential “franchise altering” bat.

The other option for the Mets at shortstop that has “franchise altering” potential is Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki, who is 30 years old, will cost a fortune in prospects, and is owed $118 million dollars.

The less splashy but smarter play would be going for Baez.

It would hurt to lose the player or players the Mets would have to deal in exchange for Baez, but the reward could be incredible.

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Tags: Javier Baez New York Mets

  • JasonPen

    As a Cubs’ fan, I just have to say that it will most likely cost Snydergaard AND Wheeler for Baez… You’re better off trying for Castro. Baez is a piece they are building around. Castro is the odd man out.

    • Tommy2cat

      As a Mets fan, I just have to say that is a laughable proposal that will never materialize. Maybe if Omar was around… or Jim Duquette lol. Alderson would never, ever part with two top pitching prospects, one of whom is figuring things out at the ML level – especially without Harvey’s health re-established. As a corollary, I think Baez has more K’s than Wheeler & Syndergaard combined. lol

      Just kidding. Baez is a terrific prospect. Your desire for pitching is a healthy instinct, absolutely. Perhaps you might consider someone in the catching aisle, Kevin Plawecki – although I’d rather keep him and trade d’Arnaud. How are the Cubbies catching corp? d’Arnaud, Flores & Montero for Baez plus – might help both teams. It would appear the Mets & Cubs are natural trading partners.

      Castro is an odd piece – immensely talented but I can see him blowing a routine play with the game on the line – a la Tony Romo lmao. Notwithstanding, I really like the Cubs retooling & hope they become competitive soon. I am old enough to have enjoyed the Mets-Cubs rivalry in the late 60′s early 70′s. Ron Santo was terrific and oh so dangerous.

      On the Mets side of the ledger, Alderson should take another look at Seattle’s Nick Franklin, who would probably cost Montero & Flores, or another prospect not named Plawecki or Syndergaard.

    • Ken Meoni

      The problem with Franklyn is he is better suited to 2B. He will be a poor SS defender. I think the Mets should go after Baez. Syndergaard and someone lesser for him.

    • Eric Ohlson


    • Jose Vasquez

      power hitting short stop or not it is not like this kid has already established himself and people are offering Wheeler and another top prospect that is nuts.

    • Emmanuel

      d’Arnaud, Flores & Montero for Baez plus? Make it Plaweki, Flores & Montero for Baez and i do that in a split second

    • Eric Ohlson

      Fine. We’ll take Castro. Wrap him up for us right now. Seriously though, why do you think a still unproven top prospect is worth 2 high ceiling young strarters?
      Not that it’s a big deal but he’s hitting . 240.

    • JasonPen

      Well, its easy to point at his batting average this season, but in his defense that was due to an extremely slow start, brought on by the let-down of not making the team out of spring training. He has since recovered, and is back to form. He is a top 6 MLB prospect, who has the upside of Gary Sheffield… That isn’t too far off. The guy has amazing power. He hit 37 bombs last year in the minors. His bat speed is the best in the minors, if not the entire MLB. He has the vesitility to play SS/3B/2B, and corner OF.
      In today’s game, a power hitting, middle of the order SS like that, is very hard to find. The Cubs have 3 of them. SP is becoming easier to find.
      Speaking of poor seasons,
      Snydergaard is having an awful one. Really bad, and Wheeler isnt doing much better.

      And, to answer your question, I think Baez is worth 2 high ceiling starter prospects because thats the market for that type of hitter.
      I’m not saying the Mets should take a deal involving Wheeler and Snydergaard for Baez… What I am saying is that the Cubs should not take anything less.
      Baez is a top 5 prospect. Snydergaard is barely top 20 (with injury risk) and Wheeler isnt a game changer either. Yes they both have potential, sure. But injury risks are too great with pitchers to trade a 1 for 1. The success rate for top tier position prospect is off the charts compared to their SP counterparts.
      I’m not saying that Baez is Mike Trout or even Paul Goldschmidt. What I am saying is that he could be… And you dont just give those guys away…

      Disclaimer: sorry for the rambling. Writing on my cellphone, and with this stupid ad at the bottom, I can only see 3 lines, so I can’t really review what I wrote.

    • Eric Ohlson

      Know what you mean, I’m slways making spelling errors on my phone. As to your points, if you guys want to trade us Castro, we’ll take him.i’m sure a package can get it done. You can then continue on with your Gary Sheffield fantasy., And, admit it, you’d love to have either Noah or Zach.

    • JasonPen

      Castro could probably be had for Snydergaard and some lower level SP prospects, maybe 1 or 2 young A-ball guys, and a prospect from our side would even it out.
      I’m not a huge Castro fan. He just doesnt fit on my ideal team. He is too much of a free swinger to hit 1 or 2, but his power and RBI potential doesn’t fit as a 3,4,or 5. On a great team, he’d be an ideal 6 or 7 hitter. On the Cubs, he’s a 4…
      His defense is actually great, aside from the bonehead mistakes. He makes some really great plays and has terrific range and a great first step. Sometimes, off the bat, you think a player has an easy single up the middle, and then out of nowhere, there comes Castro making the play on the 2nd base side of the bag. Most of his errors are throwing errors from trying to go too fast. The Cubs have been trying to make his brain slow down, and he’s been getting better. Met’s fans will love him.

    • Nick Kopke

      That is exactly why I worry about the rebuild. You do not put those kind of things in a 21 year old freakishly talented kids head. Most organizations would have had that kid up last September. They messed up Castros head too last year. As a baseball fan I hate tosee these types of things but I really believe it boils down to money. Bryant should be up right now and Baez would have been able to give you Springer type numbers had they just turned him lose but Ricketts wants to delay paying these kids as long as possible. They broughtAlcantara up first and he is agreat looking player but he is not ahead of Bryant they just do not have to worry about the finances of it. I do not think Theoyer has handled two very talented players correctly in Castro and Baez in any way and that scares me. The Mets really could reap the benefits of this.

    • Emmanuel

      No way the mets do that. What would it take to get Alcantara who is intriguing to me?

  • Eric Ohlson

    Why in the world do you think Tejada’s lack of power s the main issue? You would have to admit that if he was a slick fielder it would be much less of an issue. Bottom line is they ‘ll need to augment Murphy with a strong defensive guy.

  • Freddie Morales

    Syndergaard and Plawecki to the Cubs for Baez and a prospect.

    • mauryfeldman

      Actually, the Cubs might do that, with the Mets throwing in another prospect, and not the Cubs.

    • Jose Vasquez

      That is nuts
      I cant understand why people feel the need to offer so much for some guy that is not even proven.

    • JasonPen

      Because a power hitting SS is a hard commodity to find. And the Cubs have cornered the market…

    • Jose Vasquez

      Wheeler AND Thor ? I dont think so

      The kid he has one year at triple A and not even complete.

    • Freddie Morales

      I didn’t realize Thor n Plawecki were proven guys.

    • Jose Vasquez

      no my point is people offering Wheeler as well. Also why give up 2 high ranking minor leaguers for just one? I am willing to give up the catcher and a high ranking pitcher but not thor as well

  • mauryfeldman

    The Mets can’t get Baez for most of the suggested proposals. Can the Mets get Baez at all? Probably, if they drown the Cubs in pitching prospects.
    One wildcard is the next two weeks of trades leading up to the deadline. Conventional wisdom is that the Mets will trade Colon and/or Murphy for a OF or SS prospect to upgrade their two weakest positions.
    Another idea, however, is to simply trade Colon and Murphy for best return, no matter what, even if it’s more pitching. And then use those players to overwhelm the Cubs in the offseason.
    Suppose the Mets trade Murphy to the Giants for Kyle Crick and Clayton Blackburn (Flores becomes starting 2B); and Colon to the Orioles for Hunter Harvey.
    Then, offer Crick, H. Harvey, Blackburn, and Plawecki for Baez? That is a huge haul for the Cubs, but does not alter the Mets long-term plans at positions very much.

  • Jose Vasquez

    for an unproven minor league r to give up Wheeler ? please.
    I can understand more or less for Castro but not for someone with just potential no matter how much.
    I can understand one of the Mets high ranking minor league pitchers. I too understand to get something you have to give but you don’t give away players. I rather keep Tejada.

  • Michael Castelaz

    Cubs fan here… bad news… don’t think Baez is going anywhere. The Cubs aren’t ready to start stock piling starting pitching… maybe next year. They will trade proven hitters for good pitchers when the time comes and they have a better idea of who’s doing what.

    I think if the mets DID get Baez, it means Epstein realized that he’s NOT Gary Sheffield and wants to unload him before everyone else figures that out. If he’s got Gary Sheffield potential, Epstein will be the first to know, and he won’t be going anywhere.

  • Slumlord Fonechi

    Plawecki and Thor for Baez is a good trade. Plawecki will be blocked by Danaurd for many years and Thor isn’t much of a loss with Matz and Montero on their way. Three way trade can include Daniel Murphy and Colon of the Mets and get this deal done. Tejada can be a backup-up the middle infielder and pinch hitter. The Mets should trade whichever potential Steve Avery now. IMO its Montero as Maddux, Harvey as Smoltz and Wheeler as Glavine ….. Degrom, Thor, Niese and Gee are all expendable IMO. Cmon Sandy get it done.

  • JasonPen

    That upper deck shot today from Baez was nice…