Javier BaezThe Rays appear to be in talks with the Chicago Cubs over a deal that could be a potential blockbuster.

Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times spoke with a source who said the Rays are targeting the Cubs’ former top-prospect, shortstop Javier Baez.

Topkin notes that there is no “clear sense of how far along they are or likely to reach agreement.”

However, there are also reports that the Cubs are close to dealing Baez to the Braves. Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times says a deal with the Braves is “close,” with Baez and Shelby Miller being the key pieces. But a second source told Wittenmyer “nothing close with the Braves.”

Earlier, Bruce Levine reported that the Rays and Cubs “have some match ups they are talking about” but did not mention any names, except to speculate that “Jake McGee … is intriguing.”

Baez was the top prospect in the Cubs’ organization prior to the 2014 season, in a system stacked with talent, so it is understandable that he would command a steep price.

Topkin later reported that the Cubs “may be” targeting Alex Cobb in the deal. Cobb missed most of the 2015 season following Tommy John surgery and is not expected to return to action until after the All-Star break. Cobb is eligible for salary arbitration and is projected to make about $4.0 million this season.

Baez is a shortstop who has been used at all four infield positions by the Cubs in 80 games over the past two seasons. Here is how Baseball America described Baez during the 2014 season:

Baez has special bat speed and his power graded a 75 on the 20-80 scout scale, which would equate to 35+ homers. Despite a slow start in 2014—he turned off scouts off early with 63 strikeouts in his first 166 at-bats—he has rebounded of late, and through 104 games had a career-best 23 homers. He also slugged a home run to the opposite field off of Nats’ top prospect Lucas Giolito in the Futures Game at Target Field in Minneapolis.

He remains an aggressive swinger—one evaluator stamped his swing ‘all or nothing’—but the elite bat speed and plus power have not waned. His body language and overall play improved, coincidentally, with the arrival of Manny Ramirez as a coach at Iowa.

He has power to all fields, and according to another scout, has a chance to lead the league in homers—and strikeouts.

 

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11 Comments

  1. Matt says:

    Trading Cobb actually makes a lot of sense when you look at his upcoming free agency status. He's out for the majority of this season, hopefully returning in July/August. Then when he returns, he'll likely need at least the remainder of this season to work back to his old self. Then we have him one full year in 2017, before he touches free agency, where he will likely be highly-heralded and met with a nice contract. Unless the Rays think they can sign him for a decent extension, I totally see why they'd consider trading him. Smyly isnt a free agent until 2019, and Moore has options that last until the 2020 season. Then you have to consider the question mark of how he'll return from Tommy John, and the soaring cost of middle market free agent starters. The general fan base may cry and whine as with every rays trade, but I think trading Cobb of all the starters makes the most sense.

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  2. Gus says:

    SS with bat speed off the charts? No plate discipline? Miserable batting average and contact rate? Questionable attitude.

    Sean Rodriguez 2009.

    Javier Baez 2015.

    If you do give away Cobb (who I do like despite the contract status), I want something better than this. Wait until he's lights out again (maybe next winter after a nice finish to 2016) and sell high.

    If Theo and "Father Flannigan" Maddon are giving up on him, buyer beware.

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    • Ken says:

      Agreed, Baez has 25 HR and 150 K's written all over him. We already have Souza Jr. and Schaffer who have similar profiles. Schwarber is the guy the Rays should target.

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      • Matt says:

        Without a doubt Ken. Schwarber or Soler should be the Rays target from the cubs. Tired of having "all-or-nothing" hitters on the team, and Baez seems to fit that mold. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending if you like Baez or not), Joel sherman tweeted talks with Cubs have cooled considerably. Cubs prob want a lot more than just Cobb for Baez, and vice versa from the Rays perspective.

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        • monte says:

          I don't know about Schwarber. He's got some good stats, not a .169 hitter with 218 strikeouts. Probably would not fit with the Rays. But what a delight it would be to see him come to the plate with a runner in scoring position. Will the Cubs part with him?

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          • Ken says:

            He could DH 4/5 days a week and sub as a catcher against certain RHP's. I'd take him for Moore in a heartbeat.

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  3. edward says:

    Potential to hit a lot of homers, but strikes out a lot, can you see him batting behind souza, wow the strikeout totals would be astronomical lol. I didn't know that he had a bad attitude, that is all the rays need. I'm not real sure how I would feel about this trade, I understand about trading cobb , no real problem there , I just wish they would get something more in return, but what? If I remember correctly , cobb is injury prone, not of course not all of it is his fault, so maybe I should say injury "unlucky". There has to be somebody out there that the rays can get that will help bring in the fans and hit, but than again that would mean spending and we all know what that means, lol.

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  4. Ken says:

    The contacts that run of the mill pitchers are receiving (e.g. Pelfrey with the Tigers) make me think that all the Rays arms have to be really desirable to other teams. Rays staff members are younger, controllable, and have pitched with less run support than most of the second tier arms available. Silverman should demand beaucoup for all of them.

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  5. Brent says:

    Stu: ""We're getting left on an island," Sternberg said. "A smaller and smaller island..."
    Then he goes back to the cost of player acquisition, noting how the Rays don't even bother to talk about most free agents and find themselves exhausting endless hours working on complex trades that rarely come together, when their rivals simply PICK & PAY...
    "We're not going to be on a level playing field," he said. "I'd like to at least be in the outfield, but it's like we're out in the parking lot, looking in...""

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  6. Craig says:

    The Rays need to score more runs. That's nothing new. Same story for years. Baez or Soler would be great additions. What was Carlos Pena's batting average when the Rays got to the World Series? How many strike outs did he have? My point is that there is something to having some power hitters in the lineup.

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