While some of the squad have performed at other venues recently, Báez has entered the offseason as part of a boast of five-star free agent shortstops with Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Trevor Story and Marcus Semien. If every reported deal were to come to fruition, only Correa and Story would remain unsigned, with the ABC deadline quickly approaching.
Báez, 28, was the Cubs’ last first-round pick (2011, 9th overall) before Theo Epstein took over on the north side and spent an eight-season game with the Cubs before being traded to the Mets on deadline day last year. There may not be an all-or-nothing player left in the majors. When active, he will play as a MVP in the batter’s box, on base and on defense. He’s one of the most electric and fun players to watch. When he’s having a hard time, he can look pretty bad.
Overall, however, the results are going to be a net positive. Báez released 6.4 WAR in 2018, 6.6 in 2019, and 4.6 in 2021 (it was pretty terrible in 2020, but that can be forgiven for a myriad of reasons).
Last season, Báez hit .265 / .319 / .494 (117 OPS +) with 18 doubles, two triples, 31 homers, 87 RBIs, 80 points and 18 steals. Aligned with his strikes, he has a longer arm with more reach at the shortstop, but he will get into the funks where he will throw the ball. He is also incredibly skilled at creating difficult tags.
For the Tigers, this marks a huge improvement to a privileged position over Niko Goodrum, Harold Castro, Willie Castro and Zack Short last season. According to baseball-reference.com’s above average wins by position, only the Phillies and Angels had fewer shortstops last season in all of baseball.
Of note here: The Tigers were considered one of the favorites to land Correa earlier this offseason, reuniting him with former Astros manager AJ Hinch. It seems to put them off the race, although we’ve seen them go crazy before.