As we head toward the expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement and a possible owner lockout, hot stove rumors and goings-on continue apace. Speaking of which, here’s Friday’s supply.
Javier Báez market picking up
Javier Báez is part of a healthy free agent market for middle infielders this offseason, and teams are taking notice. Specifically, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the Tigers have had talks with Báez recently about a free agent contract. That tracks given that the Tigers are looking for an upgrade at the shortstop position and have expressed interest in top-of-the-class free agent Carlos Correa. The incumbent Mets are also known to be interesting in bringing back Báez, and Jon Heyman adds the Red Sox to the list of potential suitors. Boston has a need at second base, and Báez is a highly capable defender at the keystone.
Coming into the offseason, our R.J. Anderson ranked Báez as the No. 13 available free agent. Here’s his write-up:
“Báez is a unique and brilliant player. His feel for the game and his sense for where he is on the diamond are nearly unmatched; they together empower him to accomplish feats, both on the basepaths and in the field, that most others wouldn’t attempt. There’s no questioning or denying those elements of his game, and that marriage makes him one of the era’s most entertaining players. Where there’s room for debate on Báez is in the batter’s box. He has a hyper-aggressive approach that results in a ton of ill-conceived chases and whiffs. Báez has been able to flourish regardless, but it’s fair to wonder how he’ll perform with the diminished bat speed and barrel control that comes with age. One thing is for sure: Báez’s improved walk rate with the Mets doesn’t appear to be a sign of legitimate growth, as his swing and whiff rates were both nearly identical to the marks he posted earlier in the season with the Cubs.”
Correa and Corey Seager remain the class of the current free agent shortstop class, but Báez represents a lower-cost alternative who’s also willing to man second base.
Red Sox close to deal with Wacha
Wacha, 30, is coming off a disappointing 2021 season with the Rays. In 124 2/3 innings, Wacha pitched to a 5.05 ERA. However, his strong 3.90 K/BB ratio suggests he was a bit unlucky. The Red Sox are likely betting on Wacha’s impressive stuff and the strides he’s made at the command-and-control level in recent years. He’ll provide Boston with some needed rotation depth.