Javier Baez didn’t endear himself to New York Mets fans in his brief stint with the team in 2021. Now he’s gone, and the Blue Jays could be the club that next has to rein in the talented but erratic star.
Baez was part of the Chicago Cubs fire sale at the trade deadline last July. He was batting just .210 in a Mets uniform when he hit a home run against the Washington Nationals on Aug. 29. Tired of fans booing him, Baez gave a ‘thumbs down’ gesture as he crossed home plate. It was a gesture that received instant condemnation from the Mets front office, but it also seemed to spark a sort of resurgence.
Baez finished the season batting .346 over his last 29 games. From Aug. 1, he trailed only Trea Turner in on-base percentage among second basemen and was top-five in OPS. His numbers with the Mets improved dramatically: .299 batting average (50 points higher than with the Cubs), .371 OBP (80 points higher), and .886 OPS (110 points higher). His strikeout rate, notoriously high for the free-swinger, declined by eight points following the trade.
A few days shy of his 29th birthday and with two All-Star selections, a Gold Glove, and World Series ring in his collection, Baez is now seeking his third team in the last 12 months. Imagine Baez, with the quickest tag in the league and a flair all his own, turning double plays alongside Bo Bichette for the next several years.
Baez has power; he hit 31 home runs last season and 34 in 2018. His personality is a lot to deal with, but the talent? It’s captivating for any team making a run at signing him, the Blue Jays included.