Detroit Tigers: Scott Harris thinks Javier Báez can turn a corner
By Tyler Kotila
Scott Harris has faith in Detroit Tigers shorstop Javier Báez.
The Detroit Tigers are engulfed in the offseason with a new leader at the top of the front office. Scott Harris addressed the media at the General Manager Meetings in Las Vegas and imparted some wisdom for the direction of the Tigers organization.
I'll be the first to admit I'm drinking the Harris regime kool-aid. There's a honeymoon phase for the Detroit Tigers and the new direction they are moving in. However, I'll gladly say that I'm still "out" on the Javier Báez signing and his performance to this point for $24 million a year.
But Harris thinks Báez will bounce back in his second season with the Tigers organization. The Tigers will be paying him $24 million, so getting back on track and improving next season will only be good, making this contract easier to stomach.
For Harris, there was talk of completely blowing up the team's roster, which implied a possible move to bring in a new option at shortstop moving forward. But Harris put those rumors to bed for now in Las Vegas when he said he felt Báez will be the Opening Day shortstop and expects him to improve his performance.
Báez is coming off the 2022 season, where he logged 590 plate appearances over his first 144 games with the Tigers. He slashed .238/.278/.393 with 27 doubles, four triples, and 17 home runs with 67 RBI. The issue I take with Báez is the 147 strikeouts and the inability to read a slider out of the hand.
Báez made contact with some sliders in 2022, but they were hangers or sliders that the opposing pitcher missed his spot with. The Tigers have to be expecting better from their star shortstop.
Perhaps even more concerning than his punchouts was his defense. Báez had some well-hit balls; after all, he belted 17 home runs which is astonishing for a Tigers hitter in recent years. But, the former Gold Glove winner was not quite the defender that fans were hoping for.
He led all of Major League Baseball in 2022 with 26 fielding errors for the Tigers this summer. Something has to change. The Tigers cannot get the same level of performance he showed in 2022 for the next five years of his six-year, $140 million contract he signed last offseason.
But, Harris has offered his vote of confidence in a bounce back from Báez in 2023; time will tell.