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Yankees Made 'Aggressive' Push to Trade For Javier Báez at Trade Deadline

After showing interest at the deadline last summer, will the Yankees target Báez this offseason in free agency?

Will the Yankees target Javier Báez as they look to add a starting shortstop this offseason?

It just so happens that New York has already had their eye on Báez for quite some time.

The Yankees were “one of the most aggressive teams in pursuit of Báez at this year’s trade deadline,” according to Andy Martino of SNY.

In the end, Báez was traded to New York, just a different borough than the Bronx. The former Chicago Cubs shortstop was dealt to the Mets, playing 47 games to close out the regular season in Flushing. 

Báez was typically penciled in at second base with the Mets, but spent the majority of his tenure in Chicago starting at shortstop. Entering free agency this offseason, he certainly profiles as a candidate to fill that spot in the Bronx.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman confirmed on Tuesday that New York will be addressing the shortstop position this offseason, keeping Gleyber Torres at second base. 

READ: Yankees To Address Shortstop After Cashman Admits to Torres Mistake

In fact, Cashman alluded to trade deadline negotiations that he had with teams regarding shortstops. He didn't mention any names, but with Martino's report in mind, it's safe to assume conversations with the Cubs regarding Báez took place.

"We did talk at the trade deadline and try to match up with certain circumstances to also solve [problems at shortstop] and get that push," Cashman said. "I failed at that endeavor there, so obviously, I have another crack at it this winter and see where it takes us."

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This season, Báez bounced back from a disappointing campaign during last year's pandemic-shortened campaign. The 28-year-old hit .265 with 31 home runs, 87 RBI and an .813 OPS in 138 total games with the Mets and Cubs. 

While his power is elite at his position, and he could do some serious damage over a full season at Yankee Stadium, Báez also strikes out often and doesn't work many walks. The shortstop led the National League with 184 strikeouts (33.6 strikeout rate) last season. That's nearly equal to how often Joey Gallo struck out last year (34.6% of the time).

That in mind, perhaps the addition of a player like Báez—who won't be cheap on the free agent market—isn't the best fit. Just because the Yankees inquired at last year's deadline doesn't mean Báez is a priority entering free agency. Especially when studs like Carlos Correa, Corey Seager and more will be on the market. 

Báez's presence in New York's righty-heavy lineup would arguably be counterintuitive to the organization's clear initiative to add balance and focus on players that excel in putting the ball in play.

Plus, Torres' move from shortstop to second base was rooted in the 24-year-old's defensive deficiencies. As much as Báez has a flare for highlight-reel plays on defense, he produced 0 Outs Above Average at shortstop in 2021 (per Statcast). To put that number into perspective, Torres finished last season with the third-worst mark among qualified shortstops (-9 OAA).

Then again, Torres made 18 errors at shortstop in 2021. Báez made 20.

Only time will tell if New York checks in with Báez again this offseason. They should examine all options, but depending on financials and how the market shakes out, it seems like other alternatives will be available this winter. 

Follow Max Goodman on Twitter (@MaxTGoodman), be sure to bookmark Inside The Pinstripes and check back daily for news, analysis and more.