Javier Báez Traded to Mets: How Deal Impacts New York’s World Series Odds, Projections

Javier Báez Traded to Mets: How Deal Impacts New York’s World Series Odds, Projections article feature image
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Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images. Pictured: Javier Baez.

  • The Mets' odds to win the NL East shortened at FanDuel and their line to win the World Series shortened at DraftKings, though most of their futures remained unchanged.
  • The trade coincided with extensive acquisitions by the Phillies and Braves, who clearly see the Mets as vulnerable.
  • Báez will fill-in for the injured Francisco Lindor in the short-term, but it remains to be seen where the former Cub will play after Lindor returns.

Chicago Cubs shortstop Javier Báez has been traded to the New York Mets in the biggest move for a position player so far this MLB Trade Deadline day.

Báez has shown flashes of his usual abilities at shortstop this season, but it hasn’t exactly been on par with previous years. While he’s put up -1 Outs Above Average this season, he had 27 in the same stat in 2019, according to Baseball Savant.

The two-time All-Star has also struggled at the plate, though he hasn’t been appreciably worse than his career numbers.

This season, he is hitting .248/.292/.484 with 22 homers and a National League-leading 131 strikeouts. His career slash line is .262/.303/.474.

Báez will fill-in in the short-term for Francisco Lindor, who is on the 10-day injured list with a right oblique strain. Lindor is hitting .228/.326/.376 with a lower OPS+ than Báez.

Lindor has 12 Outs Above Average at shortstop this season compared to Baez’s -1, according to Baseball Savant.

After Lindor returns from injury, it remains to be seen how the infield will shape out with Báez in the fold. Báez has logged games at second base and third base before in his career, though he has not done so since 2018.

The Mets were -270 favorites to win the NL East at FanDuel, -310 favorites at DraftKings and -275 favorites at PointsBet prior to the trade announcement.

New York is now -300 favorites at FanDuel. The division odds at DraftKings and PointsBet have been taken down as of Friday afternoon. We will update those numbers when available.

And before the Báez news, New York was +1000 to win the World Series at FanDuel, +850 at DraftKings and +900 at PointsBet.

The Mets are now +800 at DraftKings to win it all. The lines at PointsBet and FanDuel have not moved about an hour after the Baez trade was announced.

The Cubs have become firm sellers this summer due to their precarious playoff position and with their World Series winning core of Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Báez eligible for free agency after the season.

Closer Craig Kimbrel, who was not a part of that 2016 roster, was also traded on deadline day to the Chicago White Sox.

The Cubs entered play on Friday 11.5 games back from the Brewers in the NL Central and 9.5 games back from the second wild card spot. FanGraphs gives them a 0.4% chance of making the playoffs.

Báez had spent his entire career with the Cubs, who drafted him ninth overall in the 2011 MLB Draft. He won the Gold Glove Award in 2020 and the Silver Slugger Award in 2018.

BJ Cunningham’s Analysis

Báez provides a nice boost for an improving Mets lineup. I’d imagine Lindor isn’t going to move from shortstop when he comes back from injury, but Báez is a versatile infielder who can play second or third base as well, with +7 DRS at third base and +13 DRS at second base.

Yet, Báez has one of this highest strikeout rates in the entire league and his production at the plate isn’t a big upgrade over the guys he would be battling for second and third base.

Additionally, Jeff McNeil has +3 DRS saved at second base so, if Báez replaces him it would make that much of a difference for the Mets.

The question now is does he replace J.D. Davis at third base? Davis has been a below-average defender for his entire career (-21 DRS at third base), but his hitting the ball much better than Báez.

So while Báez is obviously an electric personality and player to watch, this trade only really helps the Mets from a depth perspective, which for them is crucial given the amount of injuries they have and are currently enduring.

Sean Zerillo’s Analysis

The Báez acquisition improves the Mets “True Talent” level by 1.1 wins in my power rankings, from 91.7 to 92.8 wins, resulting from the trade.

That helps provide some more cushion in the NL East talent gap after the Braves and Phillies upgraded their rosters by a similar degree.

The Trevor Williams inclusion has no material impact on my projections for the Mets’ 2021 outlook.

Báez has had an up-and-down season, but he has surged in July (138 wRC+, .378 wOBA) despite his continued struggles with plate discipline (3 BB, 24 K in 76 plate appearances).

Báez is making contact with baseballs less frequently than ever before (61.9%, career 66.3%) in 2021. His swinging-strike rate (21.8%) and strikeout rate (36.3%) are the worst among qualified hitters.

Most worrisome: he’s still making contact on pitches outside of the zone (48.9%, career 49.5%), but he’s struggling to hit strikes (70.8% zone contact, career 78.2%), particularly fastballs.

However, Báez has continued to play excellent defense, ranking 10th among shortstops with 4 Defensive Runs Saved. He’s been an above-average defender at both second base and third base in past seasons, too.

He should help solidify the Mets infield depth, where Brandon Drury (.278 xwOBA) figures lose his bench spot, and he should take over for Francisco Lindor until he returns from the IL.

Still, since he’s ultimately splitting playing time with Francisco Lindor, Jeff McNeil, Jonathan Villar, J.D. Davis, and Luis Guillorme, Báez’s presence does not represent a substantial upgrade from a team perspective.

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