Inside the Clubhouse: Could the Tigers trade or release Javier Baez?

When the Detroit Tigers signed Javier Baez to a six-year, $140 million contract, I graded it as one of the worst free-agent deals of the offseason.

The move reeked of desperation for a Tigers team that needed star power, and has since backfired. In three seasons in Detroit, the 31-year-old Baez is hitting .226/.268/.354 with 27 home runs and 130 RBI. In 15 games this season, he’s hitting .143/.170/.204 with one home run and four RBI – and was recently booed by Tigers fans at home.

“I’ve been booed pretty much my whole career,” Baez told reporters. “I know it’s frustrating for the fans, but I think that doesn’t really help the team and the organization. I think if we grind together, we should stand up together. We should stay together when we’re down.”

But could Baez’s extreme struggles prompt the Tigers to consider parting ways?

Could the Tigers move on from Javy Baez?

There are no indications that they are – this is all just speculation by me – but there is history of teams doing this with underperforming superstars, with the Angels designating Albert Pujols for assignment in the final year of his 10-year, $240 million contract.

The problem for the Tigers, however, is that there are three years remaining on his contract after 2024. In those seasons, he’s earning $25 million in 2024 and 2025 and $24 million in 2026 and 2027.

Which makes trading or releasing Baez incredibly difficult, especially when the trade market for shortstops could include Milwaukee Brewers’ Willy Adames and San Diego Padres’ Ha-Seong Kim. Perhaps they could attach a top prospect along with Baez to entice an acquiring team to take on Baez and his mammoth contract.

Outright releasing Baez feels like an unimaginable scenario. His defense gives him at least some value and outright releasing him would mean the Tigers eat around $95 million, with any team that signs him on the hook for paying the league minimum salary.

It’s unlikely that the Tigers are in a position where they consider parting ways with Baez. But if his poor performance continues, and the boos grow louder, then president of baseball operations Scott Harris and the Tigers front office could be forced to act.

This article was originally published on fansided.com as Inside the Clubhouse: Could the Tigers trade or release Javier Baez?.

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