The Cubs will start Javier Baez at second base on either Monday or Tuesday, according to Cubs manager Rick Renteria. The report comes from Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Baez, rated the fourth overall best prospect by Baseball Prospectus, has played exclusively at shortstop throughout his three-year professional career. As Wittenmyer notes, it would be Baez’s first start at second base since high school. With Starlin Castro already at shortstop, the Cubs have comparatively more flexibility at second base with Darwin Barney.
Baez, 21, has already survived a round of cuts and despite never having played above Double-A, he has a legitimate chance to make the Cubs’ 25-man roster.
Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.
McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).
McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.