Detroit Tigers Sign Javier Baez

by Charles Vakassian
Detroit Tigers Sign Javier Baez

The Detroit Tigers made a big splash before the MLB lockout, signing SS/2B Javier Baez to a six-year, $140 mil deal.

Baez immediately slots in the middle of the order as a power bat, and will most likely spend most of his days playing shortstop. Baez can play the other infield positions in a pinch as well, making his versatility most useful.

Javier Baez was in his eight-season with the Chicago Cubs, before being traded at the deadline to the New York Mets. He hit a combined 31 home runs last season, the second time in his career he eclipsed 30 homers.

Strikeouts have been on the rise across the MLB for many years now, but Baez just struck out at a career-worst 33.6% of his plater appearances.

For his career, Baez has mashed left-handed pitching (.291 BA / .366 wOBA / 129 wRC+) with a five percent drop in strikeout rate, compared to facing right-handed pitching.

Detroit Tigers Sign Javier Baez

Detroit Tigers Preview

The Tigers are finally making the plunge towards relevance with the signing of Baez. They spent most of the 2021 season towards the bottom of the totem pole, but had a nice stretch at the end of the year, finishing at 77-85, good enough for third in the American League Central.

As an offense, Detroit was quite abysmal, finishing with a 93 wRC+ which was 21st in all of baseball. Baez should be able to significantly improve upon that number, as he had a 116 wRC+ in his combined time with the Cubs and Mets.

In his 47 games with New York, Baez went superhuman, hitting .299 with an OBP of .371, and a wRC+ of 143! If he can even reach 75 percent of that, I think the Tigers would be more than satisfied.

The Tigers need to give Baez protection in their lineup, which will allow for greater success. If Spencer Torkelson makes his long-awaited debut, and we see good years from Jonathan Schoop and Jeimer Candelario, the Tigers lineup should see some improvement. If we see subpar performances, then teams will pitch around Baez and attack the soft spots in the lineup.

Big Win Move for the Tigers and Baez

The Tigers are making that push towards winning now, and Baez is a step in the right direction. Adding Eduardo Rodriguez to the starting rotation was an excellent move as well. He joins promising youngster Casey Mize at the top of the rotation.

2022 probably won't be their year, but when 2023 comes around, watch out. Especially if they any more noise in free agency once the lockout is over.

As for Fantasy, Baez will be a solid grab in the early to middle rounds of your drafts. Leagues that reward stolen bases will give him a boost.

You know what you're getting with Baez. Plenty of pop, run-scoring, some speed, and a lot of strikeouts. You take the bad with the good. If we get the 47 game stretch he had with the Mets over the course of the season, then the ADP of 75 is going to look like a steal. Regardless, the Fantasy Baseball outlook for Javier Baez going into 2022 is a positive one.

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Javier Baez, SS/2B, Detroit Tigers

Career: .264/.307/.477, .328 wOBA, 103 wRC+, 104 OPS+

162 game averages: 28 HR, 87 RBI, 85 R, 15 SB

Baez's ADP in 2021 was around 75, but I can see him going slightly higher than that. Stolen base numbers will help him, and he is good for close to 30 home runs and 80 runs batted in. His high strikeout rate will hurt him, as does his low OBP. That being said, he should be a top 10 player at the shortstop position and will be drafted as such.

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