Chicago Cubs discussing Javier Baez with Tampa Bay Rays


The Chicago Cubs are discussing a trade involving shortstop Javier Baez with the Tampa Bay Rays, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The Cubs are reportedly targeting pitching in return.

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The trade pairing makes sense, as the Rays have been rumored to be shopping both starting and relief pitching to get young, controllable bats back. Some have pegged reliever Jake McGee as the likely target for Chicago, while fellow reliever Brad Boxberger and starters Alex Cobb, Drew Smyly and Matt Moore could also be on the table.

It seemed all but certain that the Cubs were going to utilize some of their bulk of young talent to make some moves this winter, and a Baez trade would be Step 1 towards building on the team that went to the NLCS in 2015. Adding a reliever like McGee or Boxberger would go a long way towards suring up a bullpen that doesn’t currently feature much beyond Hector Rondon, while adding a starter would further bolster a rotation that has already added John Lackey into the mix in recent days.

The fact that Baez is the target for the Rays is interesting, as they just recently acquired shortstop Brad Miller from the Mariners for Nathan Karns. Baez could potentially see time at other spots like designated hitter, first base or outfield, as his true value comes from his bat anyway.

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It seemed as though Starlin Castro would be the infielder the Cubs were going to try and trade this winter, but clubs have seemingly been disinterested by him to this point. If Baez were to be flipped for a reliever, however, one has to wonder if Chicago would look to move Castro for another starter and pursue Howie Kendrick, Brandon Phillips, former Joe Maddon favorite Ben Zobrist or someone else to play second base next season.