Detroit – According to a report by MLB Network, the Tigers are nearing an agreement on a six-year, $140 million deal with free agent shortstop Javier Baez.
The news broke in the wee hours Tuesday morning and has not been confirmed by the club.
Baez, entering his age-29 season, hit 31 home runs and knocked in 87 runs with an OPS-plus of 117 splitting the 2021 season with the Cubs and Mets. He was also a minus-16 defensive runs saved when he played shortstop.
He spent most of his 47 games with the Mets at second base.
The Tigers had been in contact with all five of the top shortstops on the market. Two of them – Marcus Semien and Corey Seager – were signed by the Texas Rangers on Sunday and Monday for a combined 17 years and $500 million.
Carlos Correa, expected to be seeking a 10-year deal in the $350 million range, and Trevor Story are still on the market.
Baez, a two-time All-Star and one of the key players on the Cubs’ 2016 World Series championship team, is a dynamic talent. He is a human highlight reel in the field, possessing great range and one of the best throwing arms in the game.
At the plate, he hits the ball hard and far. He had an average exit velocity on the balls he put in play last season of 90.1 mph with a 13.4% barrel rate (balls hit 95 mph or harder). Despite a slow start last season, he finished with a 116 weighted runs created and a 3.6 WAR (Fangraphs).
The swing-and-miss is also a part of his profile. He had a career-worst 33.6% strikeout rate last year, with a 46.6% chase rate.
He will excite and exasperate often in the same game.
But, he represents a massive upgrade for the Tigers at the shortstop position.