The Red Sox can solve their defensive problems with Javier Baez
It’s Hot Stove season Red Sox Nation, and as we’ve become accustomed to seeing this time of year, the gang at Fenway Park are interested in someone. One of the biggest issues we all saw this past season was the defensive play of the infield. Whether it be poor throws, miscommunications, or just head-scratching decision-making, it wasn’t always pretty.
It looks as if Chaim Bloom and his team may have their eyes set on someone who would solve that problem. Yesterday afternoon, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported that the Red Sox were interested in free-agent shortstop Javier Baez. Now, I know plenty of you will be reminding me that Boston already has an All-Star franchise shortstop, but we have a few different scenarios to work with here.
As the season wound down a report came out that said Xander Bogaerts would be willing to move to second base if the Red Sox wanted to sign one of the big free agent shortstops this winter. I should also remind everyone that Bogaerts will most likely opt-out after the 2022 season but is doing so in order to hopefully get a better deal from Boston in order to retire at Fenway.
So, if Bloom does bring in Baez we could see one of two instant scenarios play themselves out. Either Bogaerts heads to second base or Javy does. Personally, I’d prefer to see Javier at second for 2022 as he has experience at the position and is far more familiar with that side of the infield. If Bogey truly is willing to swap roles with the team, I say they do so after he opts out next winter when he knows his future is secure with the club.
In this scenario, we, unfortunately, have to look beyond Christian Arroyo but he can be a strong bench option for Alex Cora. If you have the opportunity to have both Javy and Xander on the field at the same time, you have to take it. The whole premise here sets itself on the fact that Baez would be a strong defensive addition to this roster so we should probably look at some of the numbers.
In 100 total games at shortstop Baez finished with a .954 Fld% and 20 errors to 263 assists. He also played a part in 53 double plays. I could do a direct comparison to Xander but we have to remember that Javy spent a chunk of his time with the Mets at second base while Bogey obviously didn’t move. One thing I will point out though is Javy did have a 3 Rdrs compared to Bogey’s -5, per Baseball-Reference.
I’m not going to argue that Baez is a world-changing infielder but considering how painful the Red Sox defense can be, he’s a massive improvement. He also has a good relationship with Cora which could only bolster this signing as we know how much that chemistry can help or hurt a team. Boston made working on the basepaths are too easy for the opposition in 2021 and having Baez on the roster to plug some of those gaps would instantly boost their chances next year.
I will say I am a bit apprehensive about Javy’s temperament and if getting booed for poor play in Queens set him off, he’s not going to like Boston if he can’t produce. That can all be avoided with solid at-bats and stellar defense. Much like Jackie Bradley Jr. before him, his value lies mostly in his defense, if he can back it up with his bat then he’d have one hell of a time at Fenway Park.
Obviously, this is just a rumor and who knows what is yet to come as the CBA issues loom heavily over the 2022 season. The Red Sox have become the kings of interest over the last few years but I think this may be the offseason where Chaim Bloom and his team finally make a splash. Bringing in Javy Baez to beef up this defense would be a step in the right direction and I sure wouldn’t mind seeing it.