Again, not so fast.
There’s a chance Baez signs with the Tigers, but there’s also a chance Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Marcus Semien or Trevor Story put pen to paper. The Tigers refuse to spend $300 million (or more) for a shortstop, which basically rules out Correa and Seager unless the market crashes on them. Although Semien would come with a shorter-term deal, it’s assumed Baez and Story will receive less money in average annual value.
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The Tigers are engaged in conversations with all five premier shortstops on the free-agent market, a source with knowledge of the situation told the Free Press on Friday night. An afternoon report from MLB Network’s Jon Morosi said the Tigers had contract negotiations with Baez — who is expected to cost the least — in the last several days.
Baez might fit for the Tigers because of his talent and price range. The Tigers already signed left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez to a five-year, $77 million contract and traded for catcher Tucker Barnhart, who will make $7.5 million in 2022.
The New York Mets and Boston Red Sox are reportedly interested in Baez, as well. On Friday, the Mets signed infielder Eduardo Escobar (two years, $20 million) and outfielders Mark Canha (two years, $26.5 million) and Starling Marte (four years, $78 million).
But Baez isn’t the end all, be all in the Tigers’ pursuit of an elite shortstop. The team has actually made offers to a few of the shortstops, but all negotiations are ongoing. Although the Tigers aren’t close to a deal, they seem to be working hard toward an agreement. They have been in contact with nearly everyone on almost a daily basis.
At any moment, something could click.
Teams are bracing for the likelihood of a lockout by MLB owners — which would freeze transactions — upon the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement. The current CBA expires at 11:59 p.m. Dec. 1.
Most players seem eager to agree to terms beforehand.
And the Tigers are ready to sign a shortstop.
Finding next SP
Those pitchers signed elsewhere.
Matz, 30, linked up with the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday on a four-year, $44 million contract. The length of the deal came as a shock to some in the industry. Still, Mets owner Steve Cohen took to Twitter to call out Matz’s agent — Rob Martin of Icon Sports — for “unprofessional behavior” in their negotiations. (Matz pitched his first six MLB seasons for the Mets.)
The Tigers offered two years.
The Tigers debated whether to push Matz’s offer to three years before eventually backing off that idea. After the Cardinals, the reported finalists were the Mets, Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and Toronto Blue Jays.
DeSclafani, 31, signed a three-year, $36 million contract with the San Francisco Giants, the same team he pitched for in the 2021 season. The Tigers tried to sign DeSclafani last offseason, but he picked San Francisco on a one-year, $6 million deal.
This time around, the Tigers sent an offer but weren’t extremely aggressive.
Then, DeSclafani decided to move fast.
Negotiations between the Tigers and DeSclafani’s camp never got to the point where the right-hander had to make a decision about Detroit’s offer. That’s because the Tigers are interested in letting the shortstop market unfold before getting a second starting pitcher.
Here’s another thing: The Tigers recently signed Rodriguez for $77 million. They also have three starters coming off their rookie seasons: Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal and Matt Manning. Meanwhile, Spencer Turnbull is slated to return from Tommy John surgery in 2023. Now keep in mind the young arms in the farm system: Joey Wentz, Alex Faedo and Reese Olson, among others.
Ultimately, the Tigers didn’t want to commit to three years for Matz or DeSclafani because they plan to have enough internal starting pitchers to choose from in the future. With that said, a two-year contract might be the best offer prospective pitchers get from the Tigers.
Of course, everything could change depending on the shortstop market.