Cubs top prospect Javier Baez has drawn raves all spring for his quick bat and power potential, but the club announced this morning that he has been reassigned to minor league camp.
Baez hit .310 (13-for-42) with five home runs in 14 games during Cactus League play. However, he also struck out 13 times and failed to draw a walk. Today’s move isn’t unexpected, but the bruised right heel he suffered yesterday pretty much sealed it.
While Baez has been playing second base in recent days, fueling speculation that perhaps the Cubs were considering bringing him up to the majors earlier than anticipated, Cubs manager Rick Renteria told David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com that he’ll play shortstop in the minor leagues. Either way, there’s a good chance he’ll make his major league debut by midseason.
Baez, 21, batted .282 with 37 home runs and a .920 OPS over 130 games last season between High-A Daytona and Double-A Tennessee and was recently ranked as the No. 5 prospect in the game by Baseball America.
Rangers GM Jon Daniels said he doesn’t expect the club to make a $17.9 million qualifying offer to free agent third baseman Adrián Beltré, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan reports. Daniels has been in touch with the 39-year-old, who may retire.
Beltré battled hip and hamstring issues throughout the past season, limiting him to 119 games. He hit .273/.328/.434 with 15 home runs and 65 RBI in 481 plate appearances. Going by adjusted OPS, his mark of 98 — 100 is average — was his lowest in a season since 2009 with the Mariners. Beltré’s career average is 116 and he put up a 132 in 2017 and 128 in ’16.
Beltré appears to have some stuff left in the tank. He may not be an All-Star-caliber player anymore, but he can still hit at an average level and he is still an above-average defender. It’s just a matter of his body holding up to allow him to do what he needs to do. If Beltré does decide to re-up with the Rangers for 2019, the club will be prepared to move Isiah Kiner-Falefa or Jurickson Profar over to the hot corner as they did in 2018 in the event Beltré gets bitten by the injury bug.