With Spring Training winding down, there hasn't been a lot of news out of the Cubs camp regarding extensions for their superstars. Anthony Rizzo is "very optimistic" about an extension with the Cubs. Kris Bryant appears to be prepared to move on from the Cubs after 2021. But, Javier Baez has now said he would allow negotiations to continue into the 2021 season.
Baez mentioned that the Cubs and his camp have not talked much during Spring Training. However, he noted he is "not in a rush to extend", giving both sides more time for negotiations. Baez reportedly wanted to pause extension talks come Opening Day, but a new change of heart will give both sides more time.
Javier Baez is potentially the most fascinating player of the Cubs' big three in need of new contracts. Rizzo is 31 years old and the closest thing to Mr. Cub since the late Cubs' great Ernie Banks. There isn't much doubt surrounding Rizzo and the Cubs finding common ground for a new deal. Kris Bryant is reportedly "more at peace" with the idea that 2021 is his last season in a Cubs uniform, making it seem like the two sides are either not close on a number or simply willing to move on.
However, Baez, 28, is the youngest of the three and would be eligible to join a loaded shortstop free-agent class after 2021. Baez would join close friend Francisco Lindor, Corey Seager, Trevor Story, and Carlos Correa as free agents after this upcoming season. That said, Baez has made it known how much he loves Chicago and reiterated his desire to stay when asked about contract extension talks.
The lack of a deadline for talks between Baez and the Cubs is comforting for all parties involved, including the fans. The superstar appropriately nicknamed "El Mago" has been nothing short of magical for the Chicago Cubs. If both sides can agree on a fair deal, it will mean a longtime marriage between the Cubs and their fan-favorite shortstop.
That is where the real question lies. What does a new contract look like for Javier Baez?
What is a Fair Deal for Baez?
When considering benchmarks for a Javier Baez contract, a player that comes to mind is Xander Bogaerts. Bogaerts signed a six-year, $120 million deal with the Boston Red Sox, keeping their longtime shortstop in Bean Town. When comparing Baez's career to Bogaerts, Baez's offensive numbers are slightly below the Red Sox infielder's.
Bogaerts has more plate appearances and games played, with 4,155 to 2,708 and 970 to 724 leads in both categories, respectively. Taking that into account, Baez has the same number of home runs as Bogaerts, but has fewer hits, runs scored, RBI's, walks, and a worse career average.
What does that mean for Baez? Well, it should actually mean he gets about the same deal, in my eyes. Bogaerts has played much more often than Baez has, but Baez also didn't become a regular starter until 2016 and hadn't fully grown into his own until 2017. Bogaerts has been a regular in Boston since 2014.
Javy can also argue he's a better defensive player, having a Gold Glove Award under his belt. Bogaerts is a three-time Silver Slugger winner and two-time All-Star. On the flip side, Baez is also a two-time All-Star, has one Silver Slugger award, but adds a Gold Glove and NLCS MVP award.
The Contract is...
After examining Bogaerts and Baez, it's easy to think that the Bogaerts deal is a good starting point for a Baez extension. It's fair to estimate that five or six years and somewhere in the $18 to $25 million (annually) range is a quality contract for both Baez and the Cubs. Yes, Baez's bat may fall short of Bogaerts as a complete hitter, but what Baez brings defensively and on the base paths is something that although not as easily quantified, brings value to the Cubs that not many players in baseball can provide.