Report: Tigers, Javier Báez agree to 6-year, $140 million deal

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
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Javier Baez is taking his high motor to Motor City.

Baez has agreed to a six-year, $140 million contract with Detroit, giving the Tigers a dynamic bat for the middle of their order.

Baez, who turns 29, hit .265 with 31 homers and 87 RBIs in 138 games with the Cubs and Mets this season. The move likely puts Baez back at shortstop after he finished the year at second base while playing alongside good friend Francisco Lindor in New York.

The contract is pending a physical, according to a person with direct knowledge of the situation who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal had not been finalized.

Baez and Detroit reached an agreement right before what likely will be Major League Baseball’s first work stoppage since 1995. The five-year collective bargaining agreement expires at 11:59 p.m. EST Wednesday, and owners are expected to lock out the players if the sides can’t reach a new labor deal in time.

Detroit had been looking for a shortstop since it went 77-85 this season, finishing third in the AL Central behind Cleveland and the Chicago White Sox.

Looking to build around a young core that includes pitcher Casey Mize and slugger Spencer Torkelson, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 amateur draft, the Tigers also traded for catcher Tucker Barnhart and signed left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez to a $77 million, five-year contract in free agency.

Baez was selected by the Cubs with the No. 9 overall pick in the 2011 amateur draft. The two-time All-Star made his big league debut in 2014, quickly becoming one of baseball’s most popular players with his big-time power, slick defense and aggressive baserunning.

In his first full season in the majors in 2016, Baez helped the Cubs win it all for their first championship since 1908. He batted .290 with 34 homers and 111 RBIs in 2018, finishing second to Milwaukee’s Christian Yelich in voting for NL MVP.

Baez was traded to New York on July 30 in a deal that shipped promising minor league outfielder Pete Crow-Armstrong to Chicago. Baez ran afoul of Mets fans when he criticized them for booing the team, but their relationship turned around when he put together a strong finish.

Baez, who also can play third base, batted .299 with nine homers and 22 RBIs in 47 games with New York. There was talk about a possible return, but the Mets remain in search of infield help after Baez decided to join the improved Tigers.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.