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After becoming MLB’s highest-paid shortstop, Francisco Lindor is rooting for his childhood friend Javier Baez to get the next big payday in baseball.
Among the names highlighting the 2022 free-agent shortstop class is Javier Baez of the Chicago Cubs. Baez has played six seasons in the big leagues and is out of arbitration eligibility.
Now the Cubs are put in a spot of trading Baez at the deadline or letting him test the offseason market with a risk of losing him to the highest bidder. There is of course a simple solution for Chicago: pay Baez the big bucks he is looking for.
If it’s not the Cubs, someone is going to pay Javier Baez handsomely this offseason.
Among those rooting for him to get his payday is a fellow shortstop who’s played against Baez going back to their days as kids in Puerto Rico, Francisco Lindor.
Lindor is no stranger to the big bucks, as the 27-year-old inked a 10-year, $341 million deal with the Mets at the end of spring training.
Among the other high-priced shortstop to become free agents at this season’s conclusion will be Carlos Correa, Trevor Story, and Corey Seager. As the Cubs and Mets got their four-game series underway on Monday, Lindor told NBCSN Chicago he believes Baez changed the sport in a way.
“He’s at the top [of the class],” Lindor said. “Javy was one of the guys that came up with the swag. You see those guys coming up doing crazy things; they were probably looking at Javy. So Javy was a style-trender. Javy is special for sure.”
The Cubs have essentially painted themselves in a corner with a lack of contract extensions to their core players. Joining Baez in the free-agent pool will be fellow teammates Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant. If Chicago falls out of contention it’s likely one or more of those names gets traded.
Given the Cubs are in first place and have the best record in the NL since May 1, it looks like owner Tom Ricketts will have no choice but to keep their winning players around, so long as he wants to keep a happy fanbase.
“He made a lot of money for the Cubs. A lot of money,” Lindor added. “So did [Kris] Bryant, and so did [Anthony] Rizzo. They made a lot of money for the Cubs.”
Through 57 games, Baez is currently slashing .235/.270/.735 with 14 home runs and 40 RBIs. What isn’t in the stats are the plays he makes on the base paths and in the field that have, at times, single-handedly impacted games for the Cubs in his career.
The Cubs are a big-market team, yet their ownership tries to play off the idea they need to be frugal. There’s no excuse for it.
If the team is serious about winning they’ll do whatever it takes, and that involves keeping Baez around for the long haul.