The Yankees may reportedly join the Mets in the bidding for Javier Báez.
On Tuesday, Andy Martino of SNY reported the Mets are going to make a push to extend Javier Báez after he had a strong end to the season with the club.
Now, reports are indicating the other team in town may have interest in the mercurial infielder as well.
Martino and Alex Smith of SNY are reporting on Wednesday morning that Báez could draw interest from the Yankees.
In their end-of-season press conference on Tuesday, Yankees GM Brian Cashman said shortstop was a specific position of need for the club. Cashman also noted that defense was important in their consideration.
Báez won the National League Gold Glove at shortstop on 2020 with the Chicago Cubs.
Why the Mets?
The fit with the Mets is intriguing.
Báez would move to second base; one of his best friends, Francisco Lindor, got $341 million to play shortstop already. Their relationship made the trade to acquire Báez exciting for the two players and Mets fans.
But the term of Báez’s time with the Mets wasn’t without turmoil. There was the whole thumbs down incident that he took the majority of the heat for, though he wasn’t the only player making the gesture. And there were plenty of strikeouts early in his time with the Mets, who fell apart down the stretch and finished under-.500 for the season and well out of the playoffs.
At the plate, Báez was terrific for the Mets, however. His strikeout rate went way down and he produced far better than the other players the Mets had been banking on the lead the team; Báez was the Mets’ best offensive player in the final two months of the 2021 season.
Can the Mets bet on getting that version of Báez for a full season? Or 4-5 years? That’s the gamble whomever is the next general manager will have to answer.
Why the Yankees?
Cashman noted in his presser on Tuesday that the Yankees need more contact in their lineup, which makes a pursuit of Báez fascinating. His strikeout rate in 2021 was high — among the highest in baseball.
But Báez brings an excitement and athleticism the Yankees’ lineup simply doesn’t have right now.
Ironically, the Yankees have Gleyber Torres because the Cubs already had Báez — and Addison Russell — on their roster at the major league level in 2016. So they traded the highly-touted prospect to the Yankees to get Aroldis Chapman and the rest is history. Chicago won the World Series for the first time in 108 years that fall.
But Torres isn’t getting it done. And Báez could be available. He’s an outstanding defensive shortstop who has been an MVP candidate.
We’ll see if Báez stays in New York this winter… and which side of town he’s playing with in 2022.