Javier Baez is a 23-year-old third baseman who is hitting .268 with a .753 OPS, 6 HR, 8 2B, and 4 SB on a team that already has Kris Bryant and Addison Russell. As a young player, his ceiling is still higher than his current output - MLB.com’s Jim Callis said Baez’s potential is higher than Mookie Betts’. That - and the fact that Baez can play multiple positions - would all seem to make him a boon to the Cubs; but also one that was superfluous, and therefore able to be traded to provide them more valuable assets for their unholy assault on baseball.
But Ken Rosenthal recently put down this notion, writing that the Cubs probably won’t be trading Baez, nor the injured Kyle Schwarber, for that matter.
Javier Baez is not as mature a hitter as Schwarber at 23 -- he still walks too little, strikes out too much. But Baez's power potential from the right side is as intriguing as Schwarber's is from the left. And for different reasons, he would be nearly impossible for the Cubs to trade.
So potent is the Cubs’ farm system and so frequent is their production of effective young position players that - and this is the really horrifying part - Rosenthal says Chicago could trade for “virtually anyone they want.”
The Cubs, a 47-21 team with few classifiable weaknesses, power everywhere, pitching for days, and one of the sport’s top minds calling the shots, also have the ability to bring in any other players they desire without costing themselves too much of a blindingly bright future.
Speaking of Joe Maddon, Baez is exactly the utility piece that he can drop in at any stage of the Rube Goldberg machine that is his managing style. Baez can man any spot west of first base and even be put in the outfield if need be. His specialty is fielding slow-rolling grounders creeping up the third base line. He can also bend reality to fit around a tag and safely reach base.
Even while we’re still gawking at the likes of Baez, Bryant, Russell, Anthony Rizzo, and others, the next generation of Cubs are already being discussed. Chicago, it seems, can reach a little deeper past Baez into their bag of trade chips if they see a deal they want to make.