Reports back in November indicated that the Cubs had initiated extension talks with star shortstop Javier Baez, but Baez himself said as recently as mid-February that talks on that front have been “up and down.” Asked about the potential of signing a long-term deal in the wake of this week’s seven-year extension for division rival Christian Yelich, Baez told Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times that Yelich’s seven-year, $188.5MM extension “doesn’t have anything to do with mine.” Baez acknowledged that he and the Cubs are still “working on” a long-term deal, though there’s no indication that talks have gained significant momentum.
Cubs president of baseball ops Theo Epstein declined to discuss talks with Baez or any other player in detail, merely indicating that the Cubs have tried to sign several players long term. “It’s not worth talking about,” Epstein said of his team’s extension efforts. “If we can get it done, we will. If we can’t, then we’ll move forward. But players don’t have an obligation to sign.” Baez is earning $10MM in 2020 and will be arbitration-eligible one last time next winter before reaching free agency in the 2021-22 offseason.
Some more notes on potential extensions for high-end players…
- Mike Minor has previously made his desire to sign an extension with the Rangers known, but the left-hander told Sam Blum of the Dallas Morning News that “nothing’s happened.” The 32-year-old said he’s not the type to “put a hard deadline kind of thing” on talks before immediately contradicting that statement (to an extent) by adding that he doesn’t want to discuss a new contract during the season. Getting a new deal done before Opening Day would be a “best case” scenario, per Minor, who pitched to a 3.59 ERA with 8.6 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, 1.30 HR/9 and a 40 percent ground-ball rate in a career-high 208 1/3 innings with Texas in 2019. Minor is owed a $9.83MM salary in 2020 — the final season of a three-year, $28MM deal signed with Texas prior to the 2018 campaign. Minor figures to be one of the better arms available on next year’s market and was an honorable mention on the first edition of MLBTR’s 2020-21 Free Agent Power Rankings.
- The Phillies continue to discuss an extension with free-agent-to-be J.T. Realmuto, writes Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. The desire to get a long-term deal worked out isn’t exactly a well-kept secret, as both sides have made their desire to continue the relationship beyond 2020 known. Zolecki reports that talks between the two sides are moving slowly at this point, however. Realmuto for the first time this spring publicly acknowledged that the two sides are indeed talking but wouldn’t specify beyond that, simply stating that there’s “no update” at this time. Realmuto landed second on the first edition of MLBTR’s Free Agent Power Rankings, wherein Tim Dierkes observed that the 29-year-old is one more strong season away from being the first free-agent catcher to ever sign a deal worth more than $100MM.