Home » General Baseball » Detroit Tigers Sign Javier Baez – If A.J. Hinch and Al Avila Start Searching for Jewelry…Then Peace Out

Detroit Tigers Sign Javier Baez – If A.J. Hinch and Al Avila Start Searching for Jewelry…Then Peace Out

Even before the end of the regular season in 2021, it was rumored that Detroit would be in the market for a shortstop this offseason. With five above-average shortstops hitting free agency at the same time, it seems like this is the right time for Detroit to finally start signing higher-priced free agents again.

(Clockwise from top left) Trevor Story, Corey Seager, Carlos Correa, Marcus Semien and Javier Baez. AP

The question was who and when they would sign as the calendar turned to November. With the impending lockout looming, and a slew of contracts being handed out, the Tigers struck while the iron was hot. On Wednesday, it was announced that Detroit had agreed to sign Javier Baez to a six-year contract for a guaranteed dollar amount of $140 million.

At first, I was a little hesitant to be excited. The thing that I remember the most about Javier Baez from this past season were the thumbs down gestures to the fans in New York and also the lost earring incident. With the lost earring incident being the most comical of the two. At the time, I thought to myself, “It’s hard to root for modern players that make so much money that they can wear a $200,000 earring on the field and risk having it damaged or lost.”

When you get dressed for a ball game, you should consider all scenarios. Yes, getting tagged on the ear while running for a base is something that could happen, and wearing a $200,000 dollar earring is probably not the smartest thing to do. Can you imagine Jim Campbell (Tigers President from 1978-1990) and Sparky Anderson out on the field after the game is over, looking for Alan Trammell‘s lost earring that he wore out on to the field?

Picture of Alan Trammell’s 1981 Fleer Card with Earring

Or even Jim Leyland? OK, maybe Leyland would’ve helped to search for some earrings, but that is because he would be trying to find it to pawn for some high-end cigars. In fact, you might be able to find Miguel Cabrera‘s earring from 2012 in some Pittsburgh pawn shop right now if you look hard enough. It might be next to Prince Fielder‘s golden PEZ dispenser that was lost during the Home Run Derby.

I digress. As a common man, just living paycheck-to-paycheck to pay the bills, this type of scenario seems like it would only happen in a parallel universe. Yet it happened this past season, and now that player with the lost earring is on the Detroit Tigers.

With the thumbs down gesture to the fans, and now the owner’s lockout…it can be hard to feel sympathetic towards the players when you see these type of headlines throughout the season.

That doesn’t mean that I am siding with the owners of MLB during the lockout either. In fact, if we were able to see the exact amount of money they are making like we can for the players, we would probably think the Players Association is justified in the wish list they have for the new CBA.

For example, every time we see a big contract handed out, we see the amount that the player will receive. We know Corey Seager will receive $325 million dollars over 10 years, which included a $5 million dollar signing bonus. But we never see headlines that start with “Texas Rangers baseball team owners received $100 million dollars in net profits from the 2021 season.”

Anyway, back to Javier Baez. While I’m never going to buy his jersey or spend money on his autograph, considering that a 200k earring is what he might buy with part of my “shrinking because of inflation” entertainment budget…I am excited about this transaction.

Today, I went to YouTube and watched his 2021 season highlights. Even though it is edited to not show the strikeouts or the thumbs down gestures, it does provide a look into the kind of excitement he can bring to the table.

One of the best heads up hustle plays of 2021 was the home-to-first pickle that ended up scoring a run.

The main thing is as long as the drama is kept to a minimum, and the Tigers play hard, then this signing can be a good thing. This is where A.J. Hinch will have to excel.

Hinch did a great job of keeping the team playing hard throughout the 2021 season. Even though the Tigers finished with a 77-85 record, it was a fresh change of pace to see how aggressive Detroit was on the bases and in the field. In that sense, Baez is a perfect fit for this team. He is aggressive and tries to take the extra base, and has the range for highlight reel defensive plays.

The main thing will be how Baez reacts and handles both the fans and the journalists on his tough days. He led the National League in strikeouts in 2021 with 184. He played 138 games in total. So he averages 1.33 strikeouts per game. He also had 20 errors in the field, which was his most in one season since his MLB career started. The errors aren’t as much a concern as the strikeouts, but if the upward trend continues, then questions will be asked.

Hinch will have to make sure that Baez comes across as a competitor who plays with his heart on his sleeve rather than a player that has an attitude when things don’t go right.

So far, Hinch has done and said most of the right things when placed in those type of positions.

It also sounded like Miguel Cabrera helped convince Javier Baez to sign with Detroit. So, as bad as some people suggest Cabrera’s contract has been these past few seasons, at least he is doing all he can to get players to come to Detroit. You don’t normally pay scouts and GM’s $32 million dollars a year, but if you have 75+ RBI, and bring in two free agents, then we can consider it as part of the package deal. Apparently, he helped with the Eduardo Rodriguez signing as well.

Winning will help alleviate all concerns. If Detroit gets to the postseason and plays deep into October, then we will look back at this signing as the right move all along. Of course, if Detroit doesn’t make the postseason, then how long before we see the thumbs down pointing at us?

Jun 6, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler (3) gives first baseman Miguel Cabrera (24) a thumbs down during batting practice before the game against the Boston Red Sox at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

All I’m saying is if we see Christopher Ilitch doing this at Comerica Park in 2022, then Detroit better win the World Series.

Comical scene of Sandy Alderson helping to try to look for Javier Baez’s missing earring. Scenes like this make it hard to have complete sympathy for the MLBPA.

Peace Out.

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