No, Javy Baez isn’t getting traded for pitching this summer.
Debate the merits all you want with the barfly on the next stool as you read the amateur columnists or listen to the radio heads. And then have another.
But know that even before Baez broke out Thursday with a five-RBI game, the Cubs were laughing at recent speculation on the topic rather than actually considering a move that would gut their middle-infield quality.
Never mind that teams looking to add for playoff pushes rarely subtract big-league contributors in the process.
And never mind the fact that the co-National League Championship Series MVP proved last fall he can perform on the biggest stages.
Baez, 24, is an elite fielder at every infield position. He’s the Cubs’ only bona fide shortstop capable of backing up Addison Russell.
And when he broke out of a 1-for-18 slide with a first-inning grand slam in a 9-5 victory against the Reds, he offered a reminder of what he can do at the plate — wild swings, strikeouts and all.
The front office won’t talk about specific players who might be trade candidates or targets. But they’re clear that Baez is going nowhere.
“Javy has the incredibly rare ability to change the game at any time on both sides of the ball and baserunning,” general manager Jed Hoyer said. “We saw Javy at his best last year in the postseason. He can do that any day. Any day he can change a game. There’s not a lot of players you can say that about, that can fundamentally alter a game at any point.”
And Hoyer said that the day before Baez hit his third career grand slam during a 3-for-3 performance that also included a run-scoring single and an intentional walk as the Cubs earned their first series sweep of the season.
“And, listen, he’s not a completely mature player,” Hoyer added. “He’s going to continue to get better as he plays in the big leagues more. But what he already is, is tremendously valuable, and I think that’s only going to continue to grow.”
Baez, who had a street in Chicago named in his honor for his postseason heroics, said he was surprised to learn anyone would want him traded.
He also seems to know where he stands with the organization.
“The first thing that comes to mind is I don’t control that,” he said. “I can’t pick what people and fans are going to talk about. I just try to stay focused on baseball and on the day that I have to play the game.
“I love Chicago, and I love this organization. It’s been the best. But if something comes, I know it’s not going to be anytime soon. So I’m not really paying attention to that.”
Veteran teammate Jon Lester defended Baez against anyone targeting him for a slow start.
“You shouldn’t just single him out. We all haven’t really been sharp, from top to bottom,” said Lester (2-2), who took a shutout into the second inning.
“But Javy’s a unique guy,” Lester added, praising his fielding. “And you see him grow every day as a hitter, making adjustments to have a good at-bat and do things that can really change a game for us.”
As for trading him?
“I know it’s not going to happen yet,” Baez said, “and hopefully not for a long time.”
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