The Detroit Tigers entered the offseason after an impressive 2021 campaign that saw them finish third in the AL Central division with a 77-85 record.
It was a marked improvement over previous seasons, and fans are officially allowed to dream about their team making the playoffs in 2022.
Baez put pen to paper on a six-year, $140 million contract, a nice payday for the 29-year-old star.
BREAKING: The Detroit Tigers are in agreement with Javier Baez on a six-year, $140 million contract! pic.twitter.com/qhv1mEwE0t
— Baseball Quotes (@BaseballQuotes1) November 30, 2021
When the offseason started, it was reported that the Tigers wanted to prioritize the signing of star shortstop Carlos Correa.
The former Houston Astro, however, was (and is) seeking a contract well north of $300 million, so he declined the Tigers’ proposal of $275 million.
The Tigers Look Good With Baez
Instead, the Tigers went to Baez and appear to be quite happy with their decision.
Baez may be inconsistent, but when he is at his best, he can lead the Tigers to the playoffs with his power, speed, and defense.
For his career, he has hit .264/.307/.477 with 149 home runs and 81 stolen bases.
Judging by that stat line, it’s pretty clear he has some issues getting on base.
In fact, his .265/.319/.494 line in 2021 tells the same story: he doesn’t draw enough walks.
However, he made some strides in that department last year.
Yes, the sample is not the biggest one to consider it conclusive evidence, but get this: in the first few months of the season, when he was with the Chicago Cubs, he hit .248/.292/.484 with a 4.2 percent walk rate.
After being traded to the New York Mets to cover for Francisco Lindor at shortstop when he was injured, he slashed a much better .299/.371/.515, with a 7.0 percent walk rate.
If he can keep at least some of those gains, he will be a very, very dangerous hitter in Detroit.
During his career, he has been vulnerable and prone to swinging at pitches well outside the zone.
If he can show he can improve on this particular part of his game for a sustained period of time, he can certainly lead the Tigers to the playoffs.
A Star-Caliber Player On An Up-And-Coming Roster
Let’s not forget this is a player who hit 31 homers, stole 18 bases, and played strong defense both at shortstop and second base.
He is capable of being a star.
He is, after all, a World Series winner, with plenty of playoff experience who can be one of the main contributors on a postseason team.
The Tigers, additionally, have a solid roster of young players (and pitchers) that seem to be blossoming at the right time.
Solid outfielders Akil Baddoo and Robbie Grossman, plus Jonathan Schoop and uber-prospects Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene are all ready to help Baez get Detroit to the promised land: the postseason.
@BentleyScotty the thought of a future tigers lineup as such….
1. Badoo LF
2. Grossman RF
3. Cabrera DH
4. Schoop 2B
5. Candelario 3B
6. Baez SS
7. Torkelson 1B
8. Barnhart C
9. Greene CF
This team under AJ is a playoff squad I’m telling you
— WestPointWarrior (@WPwarrior845) January 19, 2022
It won’t be easy, that’s for sure, but the Tigers are talented enough to be contenders and that is, in large part, thanks to the addition of Baez.