Why Javy Báez sees second choice as key in free agency


MESA, Ariz. — One of the reasons Cubs shortstop Javy Báez doesn’t see the next winter’s epic shortstop free agent market as an issue if he can’t get an extension done with the Cubs is because he’s confident he has a second choice.


Consider that the 2021-22 free agent class for now includes All-Stars Francisco Lindor, Trevor Story, Corey Seager, Carlos Correa and Báez.

Cause for anxiety or stress to think of wading into the historically loaded shortstop market?

“Nah. Not really,” the National League’s reigning Gold Glove shortstop told NBC Sports Chicago. “I won my Gold Glove as a shortstop, but I’ve been playing other positions.”

That’s right, other positions. Báez started at short for the National League in the last All-Star game — but at second base in the previous All-Star game. And the way he sees it, that might give him an advantage next fall if he winds up a free agent.

“First of all, I don’t want to get there,” said Báez, who is engaged in extension talks with the club and says he’s willing to allow his agent to take those talks into the season.

“I don’t want to get to free agency. But if it happens, it depends on the offers,” he said. “We’ll see what position [a team needs], if I stay at short. It depends on who’s there and who’s not. We’ll see.”

Lindor, 27, tops the projected shortstop class but reportedly is in talks on what could be a mega-extension with the Mets, who traded for him in January.

A return to form at the plate for Báez in 2021 could put him in enviable position among the rest of the shortstop class if the Cubs don’t get him re-signed.

And giving him a potential advantage could be his willingness to play second base for a team that already has a shortstop it likes and is willing to spend money (Nationals? Padres?).

“I won’t say third because I’m not really a third baseman,” Báez said. “Second base I would say yes. Other than that, I just prefer to stay at short for now.”

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