Báez focused on his game, not extension

Cubs shortstop is happy for Lindor; Chicago acquires hard-throwing RHP

April 6th, 2021

CHICAGO -- made it clear on Monday that there was no Opening Day deadline for any extension talks with the Cubs. His agents can keep in touch with the team, and the shortstop will keep putting up numbers on the diamond.

"We'll see what happens. They're talking," said Báez, who belted his first home run of the season in Monday's 5-3 win over the Brewers. "Like I've said, I'm going to let my game show up."

Báez saw what happened in New York. His long-time friend and fellow shortstop Francisco Lindor penned his name on a 10-year contract worth $341 million. That removed Lindor from next offseason's loaded free-agent class, which could include Báez.

What did Báez think of Lindor's new deal?

"Grateful for him," Báez said, "especially from knowing his process, where he came from. It's a huge thing for us. Obviously, it helps a lot of players. It helps other shortstops, the free agents after this year."

Last season, Báez famously said of Lindor, "He's the best, but I'm El Mago." Indeed, the Cubs' shortstop is a showman on the field, pulling off eye-popping feats on the bases, on defense and in the batter's box. He has been a National League MVP Award runner-up, an All-Star starter and Gold Glove Award winner.

The question on the minds of Cubs fans is how much longer the El Mago Show will continue on the North Side. Báez has made it no secret that he would like to remain with the franchise for his entire career, but he also knows Lindor's pact creates another data point for his representatives to consider.

As things stand, Báez could hit the open market alongside shortstops Carlos Correa, Trevor Story and Corey Seager.

"No one was going to get more than Lindor," Báez said. "And you've got to be honest about it. I think he opens the door for a lot of people."

Cubs acquire Valdez from Padres

Chicago reeled in hard-throwing pitching prospect Dauris Valdez from San Diego on Monday in exchange for righty James Norwood. Norwood was designated for assignment by the Cubs while setting their Opening Day roster.

"Good competitor. Our scouts have liked him for a while," Cubs vice president of player development Matt Dorey said. "We think there is some opportunity to optimize the breaking ball. Huge heater."

Valdez, 25, was ranked No. 25 on the Padres' Top 30 Prospects list by MLB Pipeline, which described the righty as "a tantalizing piece." The 6-foot-8 righty has a fastball that can touch triple-digits, and he features a hard slider and changeup.

In four Minor League seasons, in which Valdez did not pitched above Class A level, he turned in a 3.97 ERA with 245 strikeouts and 83 walks in 199 1/3 innings.

Worth noting

• Báez noted that he received his first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, following a discussion with his family. The shortstop encouraged others to consider getting vaccinated, while acknowledging that it is a personal decision.

Manager David Ross said the Cubs' medical team continues to provide information to the players and staff, adding that the organization is also educating the group at the South Bend alternate training site.

"We're working towards it," Ross said. "Some guys have gotten it or are well on their way, and some guys are still trying to just gather the information and thoughts, and make the decision for themselves."

• Ross went with a righty-heavy lineup on Monday, leading to Kris Bryant starting in right field with Ian Happ in left. If Bryant is in the outfield and Happ is out of center, the manager said that will likely be the alignment.

"Projection-wise, I think we like Happ a little bit better in left," Ross said. "I want guys to feel comfortable."

• Catcher Austin Romine (10-day injured list, right knee) has headed to the alternate training site to begin getting live at-bats. Righty Rowan Wick (10-day IL, left oblique) continues to make positive strides in his throwing program in Arizona, per Ross.


"I'm still the guy. I really don't want to get my mindset that I've got to prove something to anyone. I think all 30 teams know what I can do. And when I'm at my peak, I can be really good and I can do a lot of damage to the other team. So, I'm relaxing and playing my game." -- Báez, on the importance of bouncing back statistically in 2021