On December 1, the Detroit Tigers signed Javier Baez to a six-year deal worth $140 million. Here’s why that move was a mistake, only if there was no chance in signing the bigger names on the market, like Carlos Correa or Corey Seager before his deal was done with the Texas Rangers.
I would like to make it clear that this article isn’t really a knock on Baez, but more on the team’s decision to sign him rather than going after those bigger names. Baez is not a bad player, but I believe the Tigers shortchanged themselves by making him the guy they ultimately signed.
An explanation on why the Detroit Tigers shortchanged themselves by signing Javier Baez
Baez over his career has been (very slightly) an above-average Major League hitter. He has a career slash line of .264/.307/.477 for an OPS of .783, and a career 103 WRC+. Those numbers are similar to Randal Grichuk, who has a career .765 OPS but a 102 WRC+. The only difference between the two career-wise by these metrics is that Baez has a better batting average. Other than that they are eerily similar, and those are not great numbers for someone you are paying about $23 million per season.
Now Baez does have a lot of potential on the hitting side still, as shown in the second half of the 2021 season as well as back in 2018 when he was the runner-up for the National League MVP. The problem is he is very inconsistent. If you exclude the 2020 season, in both 2019 and 2021, he had one really good half, with the other ranging from really bad to just not good. This is where my problems lie with Baez and his fit with this team.
As a side note, I have no gripes with the signing on the defensive side as Baez has been one of the best defenders in MLB for years at this point. I think he will provide a lot of value to the Tigers for the entirety of his contract, especially now that he can be just a shortstop and focus on being amazing at just one position.
Now back to the hitting side.