Baez, in particular, should be enticing to teams looking for a rental shortstop.
His defense is outstanding, and he has a .255/.294/.505 line with 13 homers and eight steals..
Will they be trading stars while being in first place?
That is unlikely, but if things unravel for the Cubs, these teams should be on the phone with them.
3. Cincinnati Reds
It may sound like a hyperbole, but the Cincinnati Reds may be a capable shortstop away from playoff contention.
To accommodate their best offensive players, they have been forced to play Eugenio Suarez, a third baseman, at short more than they probably should.
That has heavily impacted the team’s defensive performance and, especially, Luis Castillo.
We are not saying that Castillo’s struggles (7.22 ERA) can be attributed entirely to the Reds’ hole at shortstop, but as a ground ball pitcher, he has been severely affected by the lack of competent infield defense.
Right now, the Cubs are way closer to contention than the Reds.
Chicago leads the division while the Reds are fourth, with a 24-29 record.
Cincinnati is actually not that far back, though, at 6.5 games away from the division lead.
They still have some time to make a push for the postseason.
However, they have been held back due to poor shortstop play.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the Reds’ shortstops were 28tg out of 30 in Weighted Runs Created Plus, or wRC+, with 68 (100 is considered average).
If they can secure a shortstop like Baez, as unlikely as it sounds, it could be excellent for their chances.
2. New York Yankees
The New York Yankees thought they had their shortstop of the future in Gleyber Torres.
Everything was going smoothly for them: he hit 38 home runs in 2019 and while his defense wasn’t good, it wasn’t disastrous either.
He had a rough season in 2020 and didn’t answer the defensive questions surrounding his game, and this has gone just as badly, as well.
His power has completely dissipated, as he is hitting .259/.346/.331 with only two homers so far.
Additionally, his defensive metrics are divisive and he has been prone to errors: he has nine.
Here's a look at that very poorly timed throwing error by Gleyber Torres. pic.twitter.com/UcqUj8HXBt
— Lindsey Adler (@lindseyadler) April 8, 2021
If he is not hitting and he is not providing defensive value, the Yankees should consider a trade.
Would they be willing to ignore luxury tax concerns and go after a guy like Baez?
That question doesn’t have an answer right now, but one thing is clear: they surely aren’t comfortable with being the 17th ranked team when it comes to offensive play from shortstops, with a 93 wRC+.
1. Oakland Athletics
The Oakland Athletics are supposed to be contenders in the American League.
In fact, as of Wednesday afternoon, they lead the AL West division with a 32-25, 0.5 games better than the Houston Astros.
Having said that, it makes little sense for them to keep playing Elvis Andrus if they are serious about winning the division.
Andrus has a .205/.254/.257 and a terrible 48 wRC+.
Meanwhile Elvis Andrus is hitting .205……….. https://t.co/YfT6uOONBV
— Boach (@meatresendez) June 2, 2021
Mainly because of him, the A’s have had the worst wRC+ among shortstops in the AL with 52.
If the Cubs are willing to cover some portion of Baez’s deal, the A’s would make sense as a partner.