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The Detroit Tigers are Buying In On Javy Báez

Tigers fans were hoping that their massive consumption of Hot ‘n’ Ready’s and Crazy Calzones would convince Chris Ilitch to open up his wallet for a top tier shortstop. Instead he went for quality at a value price to bring Javy Báezz to Detroit and give the Tigers their new franchise middle infielder.

Javy Báez by Arturo Pardavilla III is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Detroit Tigers are Buying In On Javy Báez


Estimated Reading Time: 3 Minutes

Player: Javy Báez-Shortstop, 29 years old

Team: Detroit Tigers

Contract: 6 years/ $140 Million

Past Career/Last Year Highlights

  • #9 overall pick in 2011 MLB Draft by the Cubs
  • 2016 World Series winner and NLCS MVP
  • 2X All-Star
  • 31 HR’s, 80 Runs, 87 RBI, .813 OPS in 2021 (with Mets)

Detroit Tigers Recent History: 77-85 in 2021, 3rd place in AL Central

Last Post-Season Appearance: 2014

Ok Tigers Twitter, you can finally exhale. Your long-suffering saga of which free-agent shortstop will Chris Ilitch fork over $300 million dollars for, has finally ended. You may not have eaten enough Hot’n’Readys or Crazy Calzones for Chris to feel like he could break the bank to get Carlos Correa, but your efforts were not completely unnoticed. And that money went to a good cause, because the Tigers are signing Javy Báez to a 6-year/140 million dollar deal.

After a season that surprised both Tigers fans and most everyone else in terms of what they were able to achieve. Albeit a sub .500 record in a sub-par AL Central isn’t awful, there was one glaring weak spot and that was right up the gap. So sure, you can feel disappointed that there won’t be an AJ Hinch/Correa re-coupling in Detroit, but it’s not like the market wasn’t saturated with above-average middle infielders. Or at least the quality of player needed to fix what was Detroit’s weakest position defensively. And that’s putting it mildly.

In a year where the Tigers had a platoon of Zack Short, Niko Goodrum, and the dueling Castros (Harold and Willi) they had MLB’s 3rd-worst defensive runs saved at -16. On the other end of the spectrum, in his career, Javy Báez has 44 Defensive Runs Saved, good enough for ninth all-time. So yeah, I’d say it’s an improvement.

The position is rarely known for its offensive prowess, but Javy has previously won a Silver Slugger award in 2018, in addition to appearing in the Home Run Derby that same year. It will be harder for him to put up big home run numbers like the 31 he had last year with the Mets and Cubs, when he comes to the “unfriendly” hitters conditions at Comerica Park. But as long as he avoids dead center he should be ok. The other thing he hopefully avoids is a high strike-out rate that seems to plague him.

As far as defensively, you can’t want for much more than Báez. A Gold Glove winner in 2020, Javy is really a steal for what Chris Ilitch and the Tiger’s front office were willing to shell out, considering both the length and value of his contract. The flashiest shortstop the Tigers have had in the last decade was Jose Iglesias, and Báez will bring some of that leather flash back to Detroit’s infield. After a few incredible plays, it’s likely that Tigers fans won’t be soured too long about not going after Correa. Not to mention, Báez can fill in at 2B when Jonathan Schoop covers first for Miguel Cabrera. At 29, he is the first piece of a steady and dynamic duo up the middle that Detroit hasn’t seen since the likes of Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker.

Turf Grade-B +

An actor by degree, sports lover by day, and a bartender by night. As a native of suburban Detroit it took moving to NYC for Katie to fully realize her love of all things Michigan and Detroit sports. Feel free to engage her in her love of the coolest city and prettiest state in the country and why she will always root for Ohio State to lose every sporting event ever. No, really I am dead serious about that last statement.

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