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Tigers Nearing Deal With Javier Baez

The Tigers are closing in on a multi-year agreement with free-agent shortstop Javier Baez, reports MLB.com’s Jon Morosi (Twitter links). The Wasserman client is expected to sign a six-year deal, Morosi adds.

Shortstop has been a glaring need for the Tigers since the onset of free agency, with general manager Al Avila plainly stating his intentions to improve at the position early in the season. While many speculated that Carlos Correa, who knows Detroit skipper AJ Hinch quite well from the pair’s time in Houston, would be the likeliest candidate to step into that role, Avila & Co. have preached a more measured approach since the season concluded. The Tigers already inked lefty Eduardo Rodriguez to a five-year, $77MM contract early in free agency, and adding Baez to the fold would effectively satisfy multiple needs at what figures to be half the cost of a potential Correa expenditure.

Detroit shortstops were quite nearly the worst in Major League Baseball from an offensive standpoint in 2021, hitting a combined .201/.275/.321. The resulting 62 wRC+ (i.e. 38 percent worse than league-average production) was the second-lowest mark in the sport, leading only a tanking Pirates club in overall offensive output at the position.

The Tigers have already moved on from their leader in shortstop innings over the past few seasons, bidding adieu to Niko Goodrum after passing him through waivers unclaimed and watching him elect free agency. Baez would represent an across-the-board improvement, providing lights-out, frequently highlight-reel defense in addition to elite power and baserunning skills for his position. The 2020 campaign was a season to forget for Baez, but the end result of a roller-coaster 2021 season was a .265/.319/.494 batting line with 31 homers and 18 steals (in 23 tries) for the two-time All-Star and 2018 NL MVP runner-up.

More to come.

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