Detroit Tigers Free Agency Option 4: Javier Báez, Michael Conforto, Steven Matz
Our last proposal featured one current New York Mets player, but why stop there? Let’s get a whole mess of Mets! Now, it’s easy (and enjoyable) to laugh at the seemingly non-stop circus that is the New York Mets. They’ve dealt with serious front-office issues, a loudmouth owner who loves to pop off on Twitter, and a never-ending string of injuries, some of which are almost too comical to believe. But the New York Mets have not lacked talent, and pulling players out of that vortex might be a good way to get some deals.
Javier Báez is undoubtedly the riskiest player of this year’s bumper crop of middle infielders. He is coming off a brutal 2020 season, his strikeout and walk rates are frightening, and he might not always be the best clubhouse presence. But few players possess the natural talent of Báez. He’s a middle infielder capable of hitting 30+ home runs, stealing 20+ bases, and playing above-average defense at either second base or shortstop. He might not be the best long-term investment, but on a shorter deal at a higher AAV, he might be worth the risk.
There’s not a ton of mystery surrounding Michael Conforto. He’s a left-handed hitter with above-average power and patience, good hitting ability, and defensive limitations. Conforto had a chance to be one of the premier power bats available this offseason, but he’s had a very rough season, with his lowest wRC+ (102) since his second year in the league. Injuries have taken a toll on Conforto, but he’s still just 28, and from 2017-2019 he hit .257/.363/.492 with close to 30 home runs a season.
Steven Matz is not currently on the Mets, but he was drafted by them in 2009 and spent 11 injury-riddled years in their system. He was traded away from the team in January and, surprise, he has gone on to have the best year of his career. There’s nothing terribly sexy about Matz, but he’s a lefty with above-average velocity on his sinker and a pretty good changeup. His spotty track record will probably keep him from getting a big, long-term deal, but he could be a solid mid-rotation arm for the Tigers.