Javier Baez has been called up to the big leagues and is expected to be in the lineup Tuesday night in Denver when the Cubs open the three-game series against the Rockies. Javier Baez will reportedly start at second base, with Starlin Castro at shortstop and Arismendy Alcantara in centerfield. And Anthony Rizzo, who was supposed to get a day off Tuesday, figures to be part of the starting eight behind Travis Wood.
The front office has not addressed its plans for Javier Baez for the next two months. But Baez is expected to be in the starting lineup on a daily basis at his new position, second base. The Cubs have 52 games remaining on the schedule and those 200 at bats will help continue Baez’s development.
The Cubs have not announced the corresponding roster move to add Javier Baez to the active roster. The 40-man roster officially stands at 39 players, so there is a spot on the reserve roster for his contract to be selected from Triple-A Iowa. But a roster move will have to be made to place him on the active roster.
Javier Baez has shown steady improvement in the field, at the plate and with his work ethic this season. And he has made a smooth transition to second base while still producing at the plate. In 59 at bats as a second baseman, Baez hit .339/.394/.763 with seven home runs.
The Cubs see Javier Baez as a second baseman, not a third baseman, as Theo Epstein pointed out to Jim Bowden last week.
“We already started exposing Javy [Javier Baez] to second base. Coming out of the All-Star break we’ve played him about eight out of 10 games at second base,” Epstein said. “He got a little exposure to third base in the Fall League a couple of years ago. We will probably see him, if he does move off shortstop, we see him more as a second baseman currently than as a third baseman. He’s made a seamless transition over there. Good shortstops can go elsewhere in the infield and be an impact defender and that’s what Javy has shown so far. But we are keeping him at short as well so that he doesn’t lose that. Having too many shortstops is never a problem. They are the best athletes and the best defenders. We will find spots for all of these guys.”
Javier Baez will have growing pains, especially early in his big league career, and those struggles at the plate could last for the remainder of this season. Every time Baez has been promoted, he has been exposed at the new level until he has a chance to figure things out and make his adjustments.
David Kaplan recently spoke with scouts about the top prospects in the Cubs system. Kaplan was told that Baez might have “the most upside of any of the Cubs prospects” and he could be “one of the best players in the game but he has to cut down his high strikeout rate, and that is going to take him time at the big league level. His floor is lower than any other elite prospect in the Cubs system but it is also higher.”
According to the report from Cubs.com, before Marty Pevey told Baez he was on his way to the majors, Pevey “called Baez to his hotel room early Monday in Omaha and started to tell Baez he wanted to work on some of his footwork around second base.” Baez reportedly had a puzzled look on his face and asked in the room? Baez was still half a sleep but woke up quickly when Pevey told him he was on his way to The Show.
Starlin Castro was hoping Sunday that Baez would be called up soon and according to a report from Comcast SportsNet, the reaction in the Cubs clubhouse to his promotion will be … About Time.