Detroit Tigers give Javier Baez birthday present of $140 million contract

The Cubs’ Javier Baez watches his RBI double off Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Matt Moore on July 5 in Chicago. (AP file photo)

DETROIT — Javier Baez hopes he’s a big part of a turnaround with the Detroit Tigers, too.

Baez celebrated his 29th birthday Wednesday by signing a $140 million, six-year contact to play shortstop for the revitalized Tigers.

“This is a turning point for the Tigers undoubtedly, signing a player like Javy. I think sends a message to the baseball world, to our fans, that the Tigers are here to compete,” CEO Christopher Ilitch said.

Baez said the prime attractions were playing with Tigers star Miguel Cabrera and being part of a team possibly on the cusp of rising from the far back, much like the Chicago Cubs did in his early seasons before winning the 2016 World Series.

“I like to be in this position,” Baez said. “I like to be the leader that teaches everything to guys that got questions. I like to be the guy that everyone follows.”

The Cubs' Javier Baez celebrates after hitting a walk-off single in the ninth inning to defeat the Cincinnati Reds 6-5 on July 26 in Chicago. (AP file photo)

He gets salaries of $20 million next year, $22 million in 2023, $25 million apiece in 2024 and 2025 and $24 million in each of the final two seasons.

Baez can opt out after the 2023 season to become a free agent.

He would get a $1 million bonus for MVP in either of the first two seasons and $2 million over the rest of the contract.

The two-time All-Star provides Detroit a significant upgrade at shortstop. Niko Goodrum, Zack Short, Willi Castro and Harold Castro all played there for the Tigers last season.

Baez is both flashy and effective with his glove, winning a Gold Glove in 2020. He batted a combined .265 with 31 homers and 87 RBIs this year for the New York Mets and Cubs, who traded him July 30. He also led the National League with 184 strikeouts, and stole 18 bases in 23 attempts.


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