Cubs

Javier Báez' ambidexterity and other facts about the Cubs superstar shortstop

Javier Báez' ambidexterity and other facts about the Cubs superstar shortstop

Javier Báez has endeared himself to Cubs and baseball fans alike with his wicked defensive skills, daredevil baserunning and powerful bat. Once a utility player of sorts, Báez earned the starting shortstop job and spot in the heart of the Cubs order.

As El Mago’s legend continues to grow on the field, here are some things to know about him.

1. Báez was born in Puerto Rico in 1992 and moved to Jacksonville, Florida in 2005 with his mother, sister and three brothers. He learned English by teaching himself words (even if he wasn’t sure the meaning) and picking up words from friends.

2. Báez throws and bats right-handed, but he’s a natural lefty. This helps explain why he’s one of the best taggers in the game, making seemingly impossible plays.

Last season, Báez took a left-handed at-bat during a blowout win over the Reds. To make the situation even more unique, Reds catcher Kyle Farmer was on the mound. Báez flew out, but his swing (per usual) was vicious.

3. Báez is the cover athlete for MLB The Show 20. Much like in real-life, Báez’ skills in the game are electric.

4. Báez and his wife, Irmarie, got married in January 2019. The couple had their first son, Adrian Javier Báez Marquez, in June 2018, and he looks like a baseball superstar in the making.

That bat flip, though. He’s taking after dad already.

 

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How Cubs' high-priced roster would be impacted by MLB’s financial proposal

How Cubs' high-priced roster would be impacted by MLB’s financial proposal

Part of MLB’s Tuesday financial proposal that riled up the players union involves a salary sliding scale that would theoretically spotlight the growing gaps between haves and have nots among players.

This part of the proposal, reported by MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, would mean players with the league’s highest salaries take the biggest pay cuts, and it could have a disproportionate effect on a Cubs team with one of biggest payrolls in game.

The Cubs entered 2020 with a projected luxury tax payroll of $216.65 million, fourth in MLB behind the Yankees, Astros and Dodgers. Prior to baseball’s shutdown, three Cubs were set to make at least $20 million this season in Jason Heyward, Yu Darvish and Jon Lester — who holds three of the four most lucrative contracts in franchise history. 

MORE: MLB Players Association is 'disappointed' with league's financial proposal

Seven other Cubs were set to make at least $10 million — Kris Bryant (the club’s union rep), Anthony Rizzo, Craig Kimbrel, Tyler Chatwood, Kyle Hendricks, José Quintana and Javy Báez. 

In March, the players agreed to take prorated salaries for this season based on the number of games played. According to Heyman, Tuesday’s proposal would entail minimum salary players not making 100 percent of their prorated salaries, but close to it. 

Heyman added the league’s top paid players would take about a 50 percent cut off their prorated salaries and therefore make 20-30 percent of their full salary over the proposed 82-game schedule.

ESPN's Jeff Passan and Jesse Rogers reported the breakdown of potential salary cuts. The figures still amount to players making several million dollars, though they also reflect how a 1/4 of the Cubs 40-man roster (those making at least $10 million) could take a big hit.

Though the players association characterized Tuesday’s proposal as “extremely disappointing,” it’s the first of what will be a long week of negotiations. 

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MLB Players Association is 'disappointed' with league's financial proposal

MLB Players Association is 'disappointed' with league's financial proposal

Major League Baseball has a new approach to reducing the financial toll of playing without fans. And it's highly unpopular within the players association.

The economic proposal the owners presented the MLBPA on Tuesday included additional pay cuts, on top of the players’ already prorated salaries, according to multiple reports. Those cuts would affect all players but range depending on the player's pay, with the highest-paid players taking on the largest burden.

The players association characterized the proposal as “extremely disappointing,” and described the cuts as “massive.”

ESPN reported that the highest-paid players could receive less than 40 percent of their full-season salaries. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported that it could be as low as 20-30 percent for the likes of Mike Trout, Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer.

“We made a proposal to the union that is completely consistent with the economic realities facing our sport," MLB said in a statement. "We look forward to a responsive proposal from the MLBPA.”
Tuesday’s proposal abandoned the idea of a 50-50 revenue split, which the owners floated two weeks ago. Although the revenue split was not formally presented to the players, when reports of the owner’s plan became public, it received immediate pushback.

First of all, the union opposed a system associated with salary-capped leagues. The players association has been consistent for decades in its stance against a salary cap.

Secondly, the owners and players were at odds over the interpretation of their March agreement. In late March, players agreed to prorated salaries for the upcoming shortened season. The owners claimed that the language of the agreement allowed them to revisit the issue of player pay if the season had to go on without fans. The union disagreed.

MLB’s first financial proposal to the players association avoids a clash over revenue splitting but does nothing to address the latter concern.

Pay cuts are just one aspect of the upcoming financial negotiations.  Tension in financial negotiations has revealed just how far the players and owners are from agreement on health-and-safety protocols as well.

 

Gordon Wittenmyer contributed to the reporting of this story.