Javier Baez and the Chicago Cubs worked for most of the winter to try and come to an agreement about a contract extension for the shortstop. It’s not clear how far those talks got before the coronavirus outbreak shut everything down, but Baez says there’s been zero progress since.
The Cubs shortstop recently talked to ESPN‘s Marly Rivera about the situation. Baez, who is under contract with the Cubs through 2021, told Rivera that his people and the team had “several” good meetings about his contract during the spring. The slugger also said that despite those positive conversations, there isn’t a rush to get anything done. Baez said he and his agents decided to put a freeze on any further discussions while the country is in a holding pattern.
“Obviously, we want to reach an agreement, but right now everything is on hiatus. Just like it happened with baseball, we decided to leave it there. We haven’t talked about it anymore.”
The shortstop made it clear during the interview that the lack of a deal isn’t because he wants out of Chicago. Baez enjoys playing for the Cubs. During the interview, he called the organization one of the best in baseball. His love for the team has him considering playing his entire career in the Windy City. Rivera believes his outlook is one of the reasons the star player doesn’t feel a need to get a contract extension done ASAP.
The two sides originally set a deadline to get a new contract in place for about a week before the regular season started. Then the coronavirus outbreak hit the country and shut down spring training just weeks after it started.
Joseph Zucker of Bleacher Report pointed out that putting contract talks on hold isn’t an uncommon step. A similar situation unfolded in Cleveland with the Indians and Francisco Lindor. During the spring, Lindor told the media he paused conversations with the team about a new deal because the season was near. It’s not known if Lindor and the Indians resumed talking after the national shutdown moved opening day back indefinitely.
Complicating matters for Baez and the Cubs is his skyrocketing value and the purported budget constraints put in place by owner Tom Ricketts. There is also the matter of Kris Bryant. Baez’s teammate and the Cubs’ third baseman is slated to be a free agent after the 2021 season as well. Both players potentially hitting free agency at the same time could be setting up a situation where the team has to decide which man to re-sign.