Here’s the latest on Chicago’s two major league teams:
- Shortstop Javier Baez once again made it clear Friday that he wants to remain with the Cubs, not depart in free agency next offseason, Patrick Mooney of The Athletic tweets. “Obviously, I want to stay here. I don’t want to play for another team,” Baez said, though the Cubs may lose the opportunity to extend the two-time All-Star if they don’t do so by the time the season begins. Baez stated he’ll “probably” put a deadline on talks in spring training. Barring a new deal, Baez could be one of several free-agent standouts at his position next winter, though he’s in need of a rebound after hitting a dismal .203/.238/.360 with 75 strikeouts against just seven walks in 235 plate appearances last year.
- One of Baez’s new teammates, outfielder Joc Pederson, told Russell Dorsey of the Chicago Sun-Times and other reporters that he turned down longer offers to join the Cubs. The former Dodger inked a one-year, $7MM guarantee with the Cubs because of the allure of playing every day. Pederson was a platoon player in Los Angeles, where the left-handed swinger batted .238/.349/.501 over 2,132 trips to the plate versus righties. On the other hand, he managed an ugly .191/.266/.310 line in 385 PA against southpaws.
- White Sox manager Tony La Russa confirmed Friday that righty Michael Kopech will open the season in the team’s bullpen, Bruce Levine of 670 The Score relays. The highly touted Kopech made his major league debut in 2018, throwing 14 1/3 innings, but he had to undergo Tommy John surgery in September of that year, and he hasn’t appeared in the bigs since. Kopech missed 2019 while recovering the procedure and then sat out last season because of COVID-19 concerns. The 24-year-old continues to rank as one of baseball’s most promising prospects, though, with MLB.com placing him 39th overall.