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The Detroit Tigers made a big splash in mid-November after signing former Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez to big deal, but they weren't done. Now they've reportedly signed shortstop Javier Báez to a six-year, $140 million deal.
Javier Baez and the Tigers are nearing a deal, per source. It is expected to be a six-year contract worth $140 million.
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) November 30, 2021
Baez, who turns 29 on Dec. 1, hit .265/.319/.494 in 2021, spread across two teams. He began the year with the Chicago Cubs, the team that drafted him in 2011 with their first round pick. Báez was shipped out of Chicago before the trade deadline in July as part of the Cubs' massive fire sale, landing with the New York Mets.
The change of scenery worked for Baez, despite some very Mets-y drama. He hit just .248 in 91 games for the Cubs, but hit .299/.371/.515 in 47 games for the Mets. He excelled despite a position change, moving to second base for the Mets after playing shortstop for the Cubs.
While strikeouts are a problem for Baez (he led the National League with 184), the kind of success he had in New York would make you think the Mets would try to keep him. But they have gone in a different direction, reportedly signing outfielder Starling Marte to a four-year deal and starting pitcher Max Scherzer to a three-year deal.
The Tigers, meanwhile, are upgrading their infield in a major way. They played three different guys at shortstop in 2021 — Niko Goodrum, Zack Short, Willi Castro — and the results were disastrous. That position produced .201/.275/.321 triple slash for the year, by far the lowest of any position on the entire team.
Báez fixes that problem for the Tigers. He provides great defense, and while he may not be able to put up the same numbers he did in New York, he'll give the lineup a spark. That's exactly what the Tigers need as they finish their rebuild and start building a team that can make some waves in the AL Central.