Should Yankees jump in on unexpected shortstop free agent target?

javier baez, mets, yankees

New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman is waiting patiently for the shortstop market to settle, especially with astronomical prices on every player. None of the top options have currently landed with a new team, as the expectation is that they will be a bit cheaper in the coming weeks, especially if deals commence after the December 1 lockout.

The Yankees have had success being patient in the past, and with Corey Seager and Carlos Correa still on the market, they don’t have to rush to find a solution at shortstop anytime soon. However, they could target an unexpected prospect, Javier Baez, who spent the 2021 season with the Chicago Cubs and New York Mets.

Baez hit a total of .265 with 31 homers and 87 RBIs this past season, including 18 stolen bases. Having struck out 184 times, good for a 33.6% strikeout rate, he undoubtedly fits the Yankees’ mold and what they prefer in their hitters.

Cashman loves sluggers with potential, and considering Baez has hit double-digit homers in five of his last six seasons, his services may be going under the radar for the Bombers.

With an adequate average and decent contact hitting, Baez shouldn’t be ruled out of a potential deal with a Yankees. The 28-year-old infielder is currently in talks with the Detroit Tigers, but the Mets are also involved, waiting for him to receive a price and an opportunity to match. However, the Yankees’ crosstown rivals just spent over $120 million on Friday, adding several new players.

The Yankees haven’t spent a dollar yet on a high-profile free agent, but Baez offers luxurious offense and solid defending. He featured primarily at second base for the Mets this past season but at shortstop for Chicago, recording a .954 fielding percentage with 18 errors (at SS). His defense is lackluster at short, which could be a deterrent for the Yankees who are moving on from Gleyber Torres for that reason exactly.

Baez seems to be a better fit at second base, but if they still view him as a player with an upward trajectory on defense, he could be a potential suitor in the Bronx. Nonetheless, if Cashman is willing to spend big on an acquisition, he’s better off finding a better defensive player like Correa or Seager, who pair with even better offensive capabilities. Both are looking for different types of deals and reassurances, so the Yankees have to be careful with the player they ultimately select.

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