With the MLB offseason now in full swing, trade rumors are continuing to swirl around the New York Yankees. One of the biggest rumors entails the possibility of Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor coming over to New York. However, another rumor beginning to develop is that Chicago Cubs shortstop Javier Baez could be on the trading block with the Yankees as a potential destination.
The Cubs have struggled to advance in the postseason over the past few seasons, and may be headed into a minor rebuild. On Tuesday, Cubs GM Theo Epstein stepped down, hinting that more changes within the organization could come.
Baez, 27, has spent his entire career with the Cubs. He was drafted 9th overall in the 2011 draft, directly out of high school. He rose through the ranks of the minor league relatively quickly, and made his MLB debut in August of 2014. He struggled that year, batting .169 in 52 games.
Baez would spend most of the 2015 season in AAA, but made the most of his time in the MLB. In 28 games, he hit .289 with one home run, four runs batted in, and .733 OPS.
It wouldn’t be until 2016 when Baez would finally hit his stride. In the season of the Cubs’ World Series run, Baez bat .273 with 14 home runs, 59 RBIs, and a .737 OPS.
He’d improve each year, and found himself as a 2018 MVP finalist. Baez would bat .290 with 34 home runs and a league leading 111 RBIs. He had an .881 OPS with a 129 OPS+, winning a Silver Slugger award.
Baez saw some IL time in 2019, but put up similar numbers. He made it to the all-star game for the second time in as many years, but failed to rank in MVP voting.
Unfortunately for Baez, 2020 was a step backwards for him. He never really got it going, batting just .203 with a sub-.600 OPS. However, with the shortened season, it doesn’t mean much. Baez is still a phenomenal player with a high ceiling.
If the Yankees could get Baez without giving up a whole lot, it would be an enormous acquisition for the team. It’d allow Gleyber Torres to shift back to second-base, and DJ LeMahieu could slide over to first if re-signed.
The 2021 season is a contract year for Baez, and he could be looking for a new home before he becomes a free agent.