They also said that they would prefer not to splash $300 million onto a single player, rather taking a cheaper shortstop and using the extra money to bring in reinforcements at other positions.
That’s why Baez is a perfect fit for the Tigers based on their preferences.
Rumors Are Starting To Fly
In fact, Jon Morosi of MLB Network reported that the Tigers have discussed a potential deal with Baez “within the last several days.”
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) November 26, 2021
That gives away the fact that both parties have talked.
However, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic went a step ahead on Friday, saying via Twitter that both sides are currently in discussions.
Sources confirm: Tigers in discussions with free agent Javier Báez. First to note talks: @JonMorosi.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 26, 2021
Rosenthal warned that no deal is in place, as Baez is also talking to other teams.
But these are significant developments nonetheless.
It is widely believed that the New York Mets, where Baez played during the 2021 second half, are going to make an effort to re-sign the infielder.
However, they have more of a need at third base rather than shortstop.
It’s unclear if Baez would be willing to move to third base long-term.
The Tigers, meanwhile, are in a position to offer Baez a juicy contract and playing time at shortstop.
It’s clear that Baez is no Correa or Seager, but he is a solid player.
The soon-to-be 29-year-old is a very good fielding shortstop, which can also benefit the Tigers’ young rotation.
Offensively speaking, he has an enticing power-speed combination that makes him capable of hitting 30 home runs and stealing 20 bases any given season.
He started the year with the rebuilding Chicago Cubs, hitting .248/.292/.484 with 22 homers and 13 thefts.
An Improved Player?
However, after going to the Mets at the deadline, his plate discipline improved considerably: he slashed .299/.371/.515, with nine round-trippers and five stolen bases.
His walk rate increased from 4.2 percent with the Cubs to 7.0 percent with the Mets.
It may not be all sustainable, but he could hold on to some of those gains, in which case, he could be a more attractive target for a team like the Tigers.
Overall, he hit .265/.319/.494 with 31 homers and 18 steals in 2021: a typical Baez season.
Baez is a more vulnerable hitter than Correa or Seager, but is a comparable fielder to the former and much better than the latter.
If the Tigers don’t want to spend $300 million on a shortstop, Baez could be a worthwhile addition.
In any case, Baez should be able to make close to $20 million per season for the next three to five years.
Only time will tell if the contact he has made with the Tigers will result in a contract signed, but he is said to prefer signing before the expected lockout date of December 1.