Báez, Tigers reach 6-year deal (source)

November 30th, 2021

MLB.com is keeping track of all the latest news and rumors surrounding shortstop .

Nov. 30: Tigers reach deal with Báez (source)
Another star shortstop is off the board after the Tigers agreed to a contract with Báez on Tuesday. The deal is expected to be for six years and $140 million, a source told MLB.com's Mark Feinsand. More >

Nov. 27: Báez has active market, but Mets might be out
Báez has been in conversation with multiple teams during the past week, sources told MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi, and chances have increased that he will reach agreement on a contract with one of them before the end of the weekend. The Tigers are one of the teams that has talked to Báez about a free-agent contract within the past several days, per Morosi.

According to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal in an article for The Athletic (subscription required), the Red Sox and Blue Jays are showing interest in Báez, too, and MLB.com's Mark Feinsand links the Mariners and Rangers to the infielder as well.

The Mets reportedly remained engaged with Báez in the days after hiring Billy Eppler as their new general manager, but after agreeing to deals with Starling Marte, Mark Canha and Eduardo Escobar on Friday, according to sources, the team has turned its focus to the starting-pitcher market. The Mets now have Escobar, Jeff McNeil and Robinson Canó as options at second base, making Báez a less essential target.

New York hasn't entirely ruled out Báez, but the two sides were apart on price, which is one of the reasons the club pivoted to Marte, SNY's Andy Martino reports.

The Tigers are known to be in the market for a shortstop and have been linked to Carlos Correa due to the connection between Correa and manager A.J. Hinch, formerly the Astros' skipper. However, MLB Network insider Jon Heyman cast some doubt on Detroit's chances of signing Correa, reporting that he heard the team isn't willing to go to $300 million or more for any player.

According to ESPN's Buster Olney, the Tigers talked to Correa and Semien before recently turning their focus to Báez, who is expected to come with a significantly lower price tag and thus would leave Detroit more money for additional pursuits.

Nov. 23: Mets remain engaged with Báez (report)
The Mets officially introduced Billy Eppler as their new general manager on Friday. In the days since Eppler took over, the team has remained engaged with Báez, according to a report from SNY's Andy Martino, who notes that Báez is one of the free agents who could sign sooner rather than later.

MLB.com's Mark Feinsand reported after the GM Meetings that Báez's market was stronger than expected. In addition to the Mets, Báez has been connected to the Red Sox and Tigers. MLB Network insider Jon Heyman said Tuesday on the Big Time Baseball podcast that he thinks the Cubs could look to bring back their longtime shortstop after trading him to the Mets in July.

Owner Steve Cohen made it clear he's willing to spend on top free agents to put a winning product on the field and said he's informed Eppler and team president Sandy Alderson that they have the green light to pursue high-priced targets, so the Mets could have the financial edge in the Báez sweepstakes.

Nov. 19: Tigers 'considering' Báez (report)
With Carlos Correa's price tag potentially too steep, the Tigers are "considering" other stars in the shortstop-heavy free-agent market this offseason, particularly Javier Báez and Marcus Semien, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman. Heyman notes that Detroit has multiple needs this offseason, and won't spend $300 million or so on any one player.

Speculation was stoked when photos began making the rounds on social media of Correa meeting with Tigers manager A.J. Hinch over lunch in Houston on Thursday. Hinch, of course, was Correa's manager when the Astros won the World Series in 2017.

The Tigers have already been very active this offseason, signing left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez to a five-year contract and trading for catcher Tucker Barnhart from the Reds. It appears Detroit is looking to move from a rebuilding phase to a window of contention, and inking one of the big free-agent shortstops out there would certainly be a significant step in that direction.

Nov. 19: Engaging with Báez's agent on Eppler's to-do list
Now that Billy Eppler is in place as the Mets' new general manager, the organization can turn more of its attention toward the free-agent market, starting with some of its own free agents.

Noah Syndergaard is off the board already after taking a one-year, $21 million deal with the Angels, but Báez, Marcus Stroman and Michael Conforto are still available. Eppler said Friday on SNY that he plans to reach out to their representatives.

"Definitely want to engage with their agents and get a sense of where they're at and make that call [whether to pursue them] appropriately based on the information that I get back," Eppler said.

Mets owner Steve Cohen made it clear Friday that Eppler has the green light to go after the free agents he wants, regardless of cost.

Nov. 16: Red Sox showing interest in Báez (report)
The Red Sox are one of many teams showing interest in Báez, according to a report from MLB Network insider Jon Heyman.

Xander Bogaerts is Boston’s starting shortstop, but the veteran’s defense leaves a lot to be desired. Since the beginning of 2016, Bogaerts has posted -40 outs above average. In that same time period, Báez has recorded 77 OAA, including 50 at shortstop.

Another possible reason Boston is eyeing Báez? Bogaerts can opt out of his contract next offseason.

Even if the Red Sox don’t want to ask Bogaerts to move off shortstop out of respect for what he’s meant to the organization, they could have Báez play second base for a year before taking over for Bogaerts in 2023 (assuming he opts out).

Nov. 12: Báez market deeper than expected
The Mets’ chances of reaching a quick resolution with Báez don’t appear as good as they once did. The team sat down with Báez’s camp this week, but sources told MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand that the market for the free-agent infielder is much deeper than expected.

Previously, it seemed as though Báez could look to strike a deal with the Mets early in the offseason to avoid being part of a shortstop logjam with fellow free agents Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Trevor Story and Marcus Semien. But the 28-year-old may now be comfortable waiting, especially if he wants to find a team that will use him at short.

Báez has made it clear he prefers shortstop, saying in 2020 that the only scenario in which he’d be willing to play second base was if his good friend Francisco Lindor was his double-play partner. That scenario came to fruition when the Mets acquired Báez from the Cubs in July, but there are likely to be multiple teams interested in Báez as a shortstop now that he’s a free agent.

Oct. 22: Is Báez a free-agent target for Mariners?
Mariners president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto spoke to ESPN Seattle radio host Mike Salk about Seattle's offseason plans on Thursday. He said that he is looking for "adaptable" players who are "willing to move around the field." The shortstop class of free agents this offseason is stacked, but given that description from Dipoto, there are a couple of candidates who stand out: Marcus Semien and Javier Báez. Both have played second base in addition to shortstop, where Dipoto said the Mariners feel set with J.P. Crawford.

Following a season in which Seattle surprised the baseball world by being in postseason contention to the very end of the campaign, will the club make a big splash this offseason, perhaps by landing a heavy-hitting infielder?

Oct. 20: Báez could reunite with Mets ... or Cubs
A reunion with a former team could be in Báez's future ... but which former team will it be?

ESPN's Buster Olney polled a group of evaluators on the big five free-agent shortstops -- Báez, Corey Seager, Carlos Correa, Marcus Semien and Trevor Story -- who think the two strongest possibilities for Báez are the Mets and the Cubs.

Báez played for the Cubs from 2014 until this season's Trade Deadline, when Chicago dealt him to the Mets.

The evaluators' consensus (subscription required) is that Báez is the No. 5 shortstop available this offseason.