When the New York Mets acquired infielder Javier Báez from the Chicago Cubs at the trade deadline, they knew he would reach free agency at season's end. If star shortstop Francisco Lindor gets his way, Báez will be staying in town well beyond then.
Lindor expressed his desire for the Mets to keep Báez on Wednesday, ahead of New York's game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. When reporters asked if Lindor -- a friend of Báez's before the trade -- thought Mets owner Steve Cohen could afford to retain Báez, Lindor responded by smiling and answering in the affirmative.
Báez, who will celebrate his 29th birthday in December, figures to be a polarizing free agent. There's no questioning his defensive abilities, or his feel for the game and how it enables him to make plays others wouldn't attempt in the field or on the basepaths. There is, however, some room to debate how well he'll perform offensively as he ages.
After all, Báez is prone to swinging and reluctant to accept free passes. That hasn't prevented him from being a productive hitter throughout his career -- even this season he has a .264/.317/.504 slash line, good for a 119 OPS+, or well above his 105 norm -- but it might make him a greater risk for attrition as he ages and some of his natural bat-to-ball abilities fade.
It doesn't help Báez's case for a big payday that this winter's free-agent shortstop class is loaded with other star-caliber performers. Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, and Trevor Story will also be on the market.
The Mets will have a slew of other free-agent decisions to make this winter. Starting pitchers Marcus Stroman and Noah Syndergaard and outfielder Michael Conforto are all scheduled to test free agency.