The coronavirus pandemic has put a halt to the start of the baseball season, but according to a report, it also stopped contract negotiations for one of the Chicago Cubs’ biggest stars.
The report, from ESPN’s Marly Rivera, indicates that the pandemic stopped negotiations between the Cubs and star shortstop Javier Baez.
“Obviously we want to reach an agreement, but right now everything is on hiatus,” Baez said. “Just like it happened with baseball, we decided to leave it there. We haven’t talked about it anymore.”
Baez will be eligible for free agency at the conclusion of the 2021 season. The team has indicated in the past that it would be interested in pursuing a long-term agreement with the 27-year-old infielder, and he told Rivera that he is happy in Chicago and wants to stay with the team beyond next season.
“I’m very happy in Chicago. I believe it’s one of the best organizations in the major leagues,” he said. “We had several conversations but never focused on a deadline. They were very amicable conversations where we communicated well with each other.”
A source told Rivera that Baez and the Cubs were making progress on a deal before talks were shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Baez is a two-time MLB star who finished as runner-up in National League MVP voting after his breakout 2018 season. In that campaign, Baez hammered 34 home runs and drove in 111 RBI’s, batting .290 for the Cubs.
Baez followed that up with 29 home runs and 85 RBI’s in an injury-shortened 2019 season. Despite the injury, he made the All-Star team for the second consecutive year.