The New York Mets and Javier Baez have maintained an open dialogue about his potential return to the Big Apple.
The arrival of Steven Cohen was supposed to signal a new dawn for the franchise. No longer would ownership act as if it doesn't operate out of one of the biggest media markets in the world. To that end, Francisco Lindor's 10-year, $341 million extension was a great first step.
However, the fanbase might already have to reset expectations.
The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported the Mets "are unlikely to add a free agent who rejected a qualifying offer from another club" because doing so would mean forfeiting the 14th overall pick in the 2022 MLB draft.
In August, MLB.com's Jim Callis, Sam Dykstra and Jonathan Mayo put New York 22nd in their ranking of the best farm systems. By holding onto the 14th pick, the front office can replenish its minor league talent pool.
You know what would be better than that? Winning a World Series in 2022 or 2023.
Refusing to sign Marcus Semien, Robbie Ray or Nick Castellanos because of the draft implications sends an odd message for a team in the Mets' position.
Michael Baumann @MichaelBaumann
I'm old enough to remember when Mets fans were supposed to feel good about having the richest owner in baseball. In the past four months they've failed to sign their top pick to a capped bonus, and are apparently compounding that mistake by sitting out the top end of free agency.
Nick Stellini @StelliniTweets
So to be clear, the Mets are:<br>1. Willingly removing themselves from the bidding for most of the top free agents<br>2. Weakening their negotiating position with non-QO free agents by publicly limiting themselves to those players' services while bering in a position of serious need <a href="https://t.co/ewl66XwON4">https://t.co/ewl66XwON4</a>
Re-signing Baez would help reverse that narrative a bit. The 28-year-old had nine home runs, 22 RBI and a .515 slugging percentage in 47 games with the team following his trade from the Chicago Cubs.
He provided the Mets with a compelling reason to bring him back, and the glut of proven shortstops (Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Trevor Story and Marcus Semien) might mean he has to settle for a little less than he would've in a different offseason.
Bleacher Report's Joel Reuter projected him to get $72 million over three years, which is far from a king's ransom.
If Baez ultimately lands elsewhere, then fans might really begin questioning how much has changed in the transfer of power from the Wilpon family to Cohen.