With an hour to go until the 2021 MLB trade deadline, the New York Mets joined the flurry of action when they acquired two time all star Javier Baez from the Chicago Cubs, according to Jeff Passan of ESPN. Going to the Big Apple with the star shortstop is RHP Trevor Williams in exchange for the Mets #5 prospect OF Pete-Crow Armstrong. Baez, the runner-up for NL MVP in 2018 and one of the most exciting players in the league, has enjoyed a fair 2021 season in which he trails just Fernando Tatis Jr. in home runs among shortstops with 22. While he is hitting just .248 and has an OBP below .300, “El Mago” will be taking his flashy glove to the same middle infield as Francisco Lindor forming arguably the best tandem up the middle in baseball.
In a season filled with enormous expectations, the Mets have not been able to take off with a 54-47 record. While they do lead the mediocre NL East by 3.5 games, New York’s offense has been horrendous this season as they rank 29th in the league in total runs and they needed another impact bat in the lineup. Although Baez is in a down year by his standards, his power cannot be disputed and will surely add a thump to a sleeping Mets lineup. Baez will come to New York to play shortstop while Francisco Lindor is still on the IL and has made it public he is more than willing to switch to the other side of the bag when his longtime friend returns. Baez will likely be inserted at the middle of the Mets order joining a red hot Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil. Once Lindor returns, him and the Mets new acquisition will from the best middle infield duo in the recent history of baseball with two multi-time all stars and gold glovers now anchoring what was once a poor Mets defense. The addition of Trevor Williams simply adds depth/long relief to the Mets staff as they await the returns of Jacob deGrom, Carlos Carrasco and Noah Syndergaard from the injured list.
The Cubs teardown of their former championship core is now complete by sending Baez out of town, following the trades of Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Craig Kimbrel. With all their stars on expiring deals, Jed Hoyer was keen on getting value back which he has done at this deadline. Pete Crow Armstrong was the 19th overall selection by the Mets in the 2019 draft and is a plus defender with serious potential on offense. Nick Madrigal is one of the rarest strikeout victims in baseball with quality major league experience on a contending team across town, not to mention good base running and fielding skills. Kevin Alcantara and Alex Vizcaino are two quality minor leaguers with the potential to contribute at a major league level down the road once the Cubs return to contention. Chicago’s return for Bryant is an all around prospect in OF Alex Canario as well as pitcher Caleb Killian. With their moves today, the Cubs will be joining the Pirates in the basement of the NL Central for years to come as they choose to start from scratch for the first time in nearly a decade.
By bringing in Baez, New York has committed themselves to contention for at least this season. “El Mago” is a free agent after the 2021 season and is worth over $100 million which could be an issue for a Mets team already paying Lindor and deGrom huge money with key pieces in Michael Conforto, Noah Syndergaard and Marcus Stroman all hitting the open market this winter. While Steve Cohen is no stranger to money, the Mets have been wary of the luxury tax line so it will be very intriguing to see who they pursue to keep and let walk come winter.
Like he did in the Windy City, Baez is surely going to fire up a Mets team that has yet to find their full potential this season. While the Phillies and Braves also filled needs today, the Mets acquiring Baez gives them yet another star player to join an incredibly talented roster and if he can find a more consistent approach at the plate, New York will be the team to beat in the NL East this year and possibly even the biggest challengers to the Dodgers and Padres for the pennant.
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