Cubs shortstop Javy Baez doesn’t know any more than anyone else where baseball’s economics and player salary markets are headed in the next year or two as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But the two-time All-Star expressed no regret about not accepting a club offer during negotiations on a long-term extension over the winter and said he felt no “rush” to resume talks in the uncertain climate.
Baez, the 2018 MVP runner-up who is eligible for free agency after next season, had expressed optimism that talks were “progressing” in March before the pandemic shut down sports — and all extension talks.
“It’s been really difficult with all this happening right now,” said Baez, whose family all stayed healthy through baseball’s shutdown and who looks in good shape after working out during that time with brother-in-law Jose Berrios, the Twins pitcher.
“We have really good communication and relationship between me and the owners and obviously my agent,” Baez added. “I think when this [is in the] past, I think we’re going to talk and stay in touch and see what happens from here on, and with the season.”
Teammate Kris Bryant, long considered a sure thing to test the open market after the 2021 season, said Monday the pandemic and first-time fatherhood has made him rethink things that are important to him — including, potentially, the Cubs and what it might take to stay with them.
But predicting where payroll budgets, industry revenues and consequently player markets will be even two or three years from now is all but impossible during a pandemic with no end in sight.
All of which could render many players and teams’ best intentions moot for now.
“This is without question the most difficult time we’ve ever had as far as projecting those things,” Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said this week.
Baez, who has a 2020 salary of $10 million (prorated for the shortened season), was the primary focus of the front office much of the winter as it tried to lock him up as a part of the next contending core it envisioned.
He said he has bigger things to worry about now as the team tries to stay disciplined and committed to pulling off a 60-game season.
“Obviously, everybody wants to get paid, but we’ve got to wait for the right time,” he said, “and both sides are going to see and know what’s right for each other. I’m not in a rush. I’m worried right now about getting back on the field and playing regular games and trying to win in this season that is going to be so weird.
“Obviously with this happening right now it’s going to change everything. It already changed 2020; it’s going to change the next two years I think.”
Baez said the decision to play was not really difficult and he didn’t consider opting out.
“I feel like everybody’s dealing with the same thing,” said Baez, who among other things keeps his free agency timeline intact by playing and being credited with a full season of service time for 2020. “Some of them have got contracts; some of them don’t.
“I’ve got one year [more] I’m going to be in arbitration. We’ll see. They know me. I’m pretty sure every team knows me and knows what I can do. I’m not in a rush. We’ll just see what happens this season and how it goes for me and with this 60 games and be ready for next season.
This two-game series vs the Cubs heading into the All-Star break marks the end of NBC Sports Chicago’s simulation of the 2020 White Sox season.
Result: White Sox def. Cubs 10-8
Record: 55-37 this season, 1st in A.L. Central (3.5 games ahead of Twins)
W: Dylan Cease (5-4)
L: Jose Quintana (9-5)
SV: Alex Colome (19)
Game summary: The series everyone has been waiting for: Cubs-White Sox, with the added bonus of a matchup between Dylan Cease and Jose Quintana, who switched teams in a trade also involving Eloy Jimenez just under three years ago. Who would come out ahead in this one?
If you guessed Cease, you are correct. The White Sox made Quintana’s latest return to the South Side a living nightmare. Jose Abreu extended his hitting streak to 13 games with an RBI single in the first. Nomar Mazara and Edwin Encarnacion went back-to-back in the second, respectively hitting a two-run homer and solo shot to give the White Sox a 4-0 lead. The third didn’t alleviate the onslaught whatsoever. Lus Robert hit a two-run blast that bounced Quintana from the game before he could complete three innings.
Meanwhile, Cease largely cruised through his outing, overpowering Cubs hitters with a 95+ mph fastball and mixing in a devastating changeup. Cease’s eight strikeouts stood out a lot more than the two solo homers he gave up to Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber in his 5 2/3 innings of work.
The White Sox would need all the insurance they could get because the Cubs went down swinging. Kyle Schwarber and Kris Bryant each went deep in the late innings, driving in five runs and putting a jubilant White Sox home crowd on edge. Fortunately for the South Siders, Abreu and Encarnacion kept the Cubs at bay with long balls of their own to secure the win in the first of two against their crosstown rivals.
White Sox lineup:
Edwin Encarnacion: 2-5, 2 HR (3), 4 RBI, 2 R (.327 BA)
Eloy Jimenez: 3-4, R (.261 BA)
Yoan Moncada: 0-3, 2 BB (.275 BA)
Yasmani Grandal: 0-5 (.301 BA)
Jose Abreu: 2-3, HR (27), 2 RBI, 2 R (.321 BA)
Tim Anderson: 0-4 (.269 BA)
Luis Robert: 1-4, HR (5), 2 RBI, R (.255 BA)
Nick Madrigal: 2-3, 2 2B, 2 R (.286 BA)
Nomar Mazara: 2-4, HR (18), 2 RBI, 2 R (.257 BA)
Jose Abreu singled to center field, Eloy Jimenez scored. 1-0 CHW.
Nomar Mazara homered to right field, Nick Madrigal scored. 3-0 CHW.
Edwin Encarnacion homered to center field. 4-0 CHW.
Luis Robert homered to right field, Abreu scored. 6-0 CHW.
Kris Bryant homered to left field. 6-1 CHW.
Kyle Schwarber homered to right field. 6-2 CHW.
Abreu homered to center field. 7-2 CHW.
Schwarber homered to right field, Javier Baez and Bryant scored. 7-5 CHW.
Encarnacion homered to left field Madrigal and Mazara scored. 10- 5 CHW.
Jason Heyward doubled to left field, David Bote scored. 10-6 CHW.
Bryant homered to center field, Jason Heyward scored. 10-8 CHW.
Notable performance: Edwin Encarnacion gets back-to-back showings in this section of the recap. That’s what happens when you record four RBIs for the second straight game. Encarnacion is also rising up the home run and RBI leaderboards. He’s now tied for second in homers (33) and is seventh in RBIs (71) in the American League.
Next game: Game 93: Cubs vs. White Sox (Jon Lester vs. Lucas Giolito)