The idea of parting with the centerfielder of the future seems even bleaker in light of Baez’s contract situation. The star is in the final year of his deal before he enters what is expected to be a very lucrative free agency.
This means that the Mets are only guaranteed to employ Baez as a rest-of-season rental. There is a very real possibility that either Baez or the club elects against pursuing a long-term union.
Baez will assuredly help the Mets this season. Lindor is expected to be out another 1-4 weeks as he recovers from an oblique injury. Baez will provide elite defense and power production from the shortstop position, before shifting to 2nd or 3rd base for the remainder of the year.
His services will be quite useful during a playoff run. The fact that Baez has publically expressed interest in pairing with fellow Puerto Rican star Lindor may also be a positive indication that he and the Mets could work out a mutually beneficial contract beyond 2021.
However, as things currently stand, Crow-Armstrong is a high price for a rental.
The Backup Plan
There is one chief reason why I believe trading Crow-Armstrong was reasonable despite the factors listed above. As things currently stand, the Mets have a natural pivot that would simultaneously solve their outfield issue while also addressing a logjam at another important position.
Current upper-tier prospect Ronny Mauricio remains with the club. However, the shortstop appears to be without a path to MLB playing time with his position gridlocked by Lindor and the potential retention of Baez.
Now that the Mets are without a future centerfielder, top analysts such as Kieth Law of The Athletic have suggested training Mauricio as an outfield. The 20-year-old prospect has the speed and defensive skills to profile well as a CF. Beginning the process now gives New York a clear path toward a sensible solution.