If there was one soon-to-be free agent shortstop that many would agree isn’t a fit for the New York Yankees, it’s probably Javier Baez (we’re not counting Andrelton Simmons, who would by far be the worst fit).
Why? Baez is another strikeout-heavy bat (he led the NL in whiffs this past season) who doesn’t make enough contact to solve the Yankees’ offensive deficiencies. On defense? He’s certainly good, but he’s also erratic at times, and he also just transitioned to second base for the second half of 2021.
But unbeknownst to us, apparently the Yankees have been and remain reportedly interested in Baez, who is set to hit free agency in a couple of weeks if he and the Mets don’t come to an agreement on a new contract.
Even though it seems Baez will return to Queens, if he doesn’t, SNY’s Andy Martino says there’s a possibility the former Cub hits the subway and comes over to the Bronx.
Martino mentioned the Yankees were “one of the most aggressive teams in pursuit of Baez at this year’s trade deadline,” which is certainly a surprise.
Then again, it kind of makes sense. Baez has ample experience at second base and shortstop, which would’ve helped the situation with Gleyber Torres. Maybe the addition of Baez would’ve prompted Torres’ shift back to second base sooner since Baez would’ve been a versatile solution.
Are the Yankees really interested in Javier Baez?
Then again, if we’re talking about Baez the shortstop, we just don’t see how this should be Plan A for the Bombers. Despite making highlight-reel plays that leave you with your jaw on the floor, Baez’s fielding percentage at short has steadily declined/has been inconsistent since 2016. Check it out:
- 2016 – .981
- 2017 – .959
- 2018 – .965
- 2019 – .973
- 2020 – .968
- 2021 – .954
- 2016: 3
- 2017: 2
- 2018: 4
- 2019: 31 (!!!)
- 2020: 6
- 2021: 3
It’s also important to note that Baez hasn’t played shortstop consistently whatsoever. His career-high in games at the position is 129 back in 2019, which explains his best numbers that season. He’s jumped around to second and third base with the Cubs and Mets, which speaks to his versatility … but don’t the Yankees want a true shortstop here? Or at least someone who’d better fit the profile of transitioning to third base within the next three years?
Then you throw in the fact Baez is a career .264 hitter with a .307 OBP, it’s just really hard to envision a fit here.
Maybe it’s just a bunch of smoke? While we’d certainly take Baez on our team, most of the other available names would be more suited for what the Yankees need at the moment. Then again, don’t put it past them to botch another important offseason move.