I’ve been steadfast in refuting the report that Kris Bryant turned down an extension offer of “well north of $200 million,” so I want to tread carefully when it comes to the latest report about Javier Baez‘s negotiations. Or rather, his past negotiations. We do know via multiple outlets, one of which was Javy himself, that the shortstop was engaged in extension talks last spring prior to the shutdown. We also know that he did himself no favors with an abysmal 2020 performance.
According to Buster Olney, who wedged the info into a larger column for ESPN+, that disappointing campaign “followed a negotiation that concluded with him passing up a Cubs’ offer somewhere in the range of $180 million.” In Javy parlance, that’s a large number. So large, in fact, that it seems pretty difficult to believe in light of the organization’s spendthrift ways when it comes to position-player spending over the last several years.
Even before they slashed payroll and reportedly low-balled Anthony Rizzo, and even when Javy was still viewed as a potential perennial MVP candidate, $180 million would have been a stretch. My attempt at predicting a deal back in January of 2020 came to $136 million over six years ($22.67M AAV) with a max of $160 million over eight years ($20M AAV). Olney didn’t give a length on the deal in the two paragraphs devoted to the topic, but I’m thinking it had to be eight or nine years ($20-22.5M AAV).
Applying some of what we know or have heard about the Bryant “offer,” which really wasn’t much more than conceptual conversation, the Cubs were hoping to load a deal up with options and escalators. So that $200 million figure was a max potential target rather than a guarantee. Is it possible the same could be true of the number Olney tied to Javy? I can’t say for certain, though it seems to be par for the course.
It’s also possible the offer featured mutual or team options rather than player options and lacked the additional security of a no-trade clause. Again, that’s purely speculation on my part.
But, boy oh boy, Javy may end up regretting it in a big way if there’s a strong measure of veracity to Olney’s report. Between depressed numbers, an approach that doesn’t appear to be aging well, and a strong shortstop class in free agency, Javy doesn’t have much leverage on this front.
He does seem to be very interested in remaining a Cub, though, so maybe he’s willing to accept what will certainly be a significant discount on the number in question.