NY Mets: Why this rebuilding team will try to sign Javier Baez
The New York Mets are entering an offseason when important decisions will have to be made. Following a disappointing season in 2021, the team is looking at making huge wholesale changes, particularly when it comes to the general manager and manager roles.
Apart from those two staff positions, the Mets will also need to make big decisions on several of their key free agents, the most notable among them being Marcus Stroman, Noah Syndergaard, Michael Conforto, and Javier Baez. In a previous article, I highlighted one reason why the team should bring each of them back. In this article, I focus on Mets second baseman Javier Baez, and the one team that could pry him away from the Mets.
Baez had a stellar stint with the Mets. Apart from the thumbs down controversy, he generated a second-half performance that reminded Mets fans of Yoenis Cespedes back in 2015. Baez compiled a .299/.371/.515 slash line with 9 HR and 22 RBI, while being a good middle infielder partner with his best friend and Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor.
The Mets will need to spend money to retain Javier Baez, who will be a target for one team in the American League Central.
Baez enters free agency as one of the top free agents on the market. Unlike some of the other shortstops entering free agency, Baez could market himself as a second baseman as well, which only increases the value he could bring to a new team. Surveying the free agent market and each team’s positional needs, the Detroit Tigers may become a threat to the Mets when it comes to signing Baez, as they are rumored to be seeking a shortstop.
The Tigers are coming off a season in which they played better than expected. Finishing third in the American League Central, the Tigers are going to want to capitalize on their improved roster in 2022, and that means spending more money to acquire more offensive pieces to support a young, burgeoning pitching staff.
Baez would be a good fit for Detroit: He brings the offensive track record that the Tigers are looking for, and they could offer him the shortstop position, something that the Mets cannot offer him. As a team, the Tigers were 24th in the league in offense, so they could use not only one but two power-hitting bats in the lineup. The team could also use a starting shortstop. In 2021, the Tigers’ starting shortstop was more of a by-committee situation, with players like Zack Short, Nico Goodrum, and Harold Castro spending time there this past season.
The Tigers are also in a better position financially to compete with some of the other big markets on bidding for free agents. Now that some of their previous bad contracts are coming off the books, the Tigers are faced with a more manageable payroll situation.
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The Mets, meanwhile, have an owner that is willing to splurge. This offseason, in order for his team to keep Javier Baez, Mets owner Steve Cohen may have to open his wallet or risk losing his star player to the up-and-coming team from the Motor City.