Javier Baez doesn’t want to leave the Cubs, so the ball is in their court.
Jed Hoyer has a lot on his plate, with decisions on Baez, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras looming. Bryant and Contreras have been frequently shopped on the trade block, with neither commanding exactly what the Cubs were looking for in return at the time. For now, it appears the Cubs core four will start the season with the club.
Baez is entering the final year of his contract in similar fashion to his teammates, but it’s far more likely he signs long-term than Bryant, per reports. Whether that proves true remains to be seen, but for now Baez has made it clear he prefers to stay on the north side of Chicago.
“Obviously, I want to stay here,” Báez told reporters over Zoom per NBC Chicago. “We won here, I’ve been here 10 years now and they know what I can do.”
Baez applying pressure to the Cubs front office
Baez is allowing his agent and the Cubs to work out his deal during the season so he can focus on the task at hand, and that’s winning the NL Central in a year most pundits expect Chicago to take a step back.
The Cubs are projected to win somewhere around 85 games, per PECOTA. The Central is among the most crowded, yet least talented divisions in baseball. The Cardinals are the only team which clearly upgraded with the addition of Nolan Arenado. Meanwhile, the Cubs and Brewers remained stagnant while the Reds and Pirates took clear steps back.
Regardless, Baez figures to play a major role in the Cubs playoff hopes not just this season, but beyond. In the shortened 2020 campaign, Baez hit just .203 in 59 games, though he did win his first Gold Glove.