On Tuesday, Javy Baez apologized for offending fans with the "thumbs down" gesture the New York Mets have been flashing to the crowd. While Baez did what Mets management wanted by apologizing, it's clear his actions are all about his impending free agency.
Here's what Baez had to say:
I don't for one second believe Baez is actually sorry. The fans have booed the Mets mercilessly lately, so the "thumbs down" gesture was a way for the players to fire back. If anything this entire mess has probably made them even more hardened to it.
Baez will be hitting free agency for the first time in his career after the season. The 28-year-old's reps have to know how bad it looks that he's picking fights with fans. What organization is going to shell out big money for a guy who can't even connect with the crowd?
Will Baez's fan problems prevent him from getting the monster free agent contract that was expected a few years ago? No, his subpar play already took care of that. But this incident plus back-to-back down seasons has crushed his value. Showing some level of remorse might help him.
In the shortened 2020 season, Baez was straight awful. In 59 games hit hit .203 with a horrendous .599 OPS and a .238 on-base percentage. He only had eight home runs and struck out 75 times against 11 walks (four intentional). This season hasn't been much of an improvement.
In 2021, split between the Chicago Cubs and the Mets, Baez is hitting .242 with a .765 OPS, a .286 on-base percentage, 26 home runs and 153 strikeouts against just 18 walks.
Unfortunately for Baez, a long-term, big-money deal of the kind Francisco Lindor got likely isn't happening. And he's almost certainly not returning to the Mets after this mess. A reunion with the Cubs is a strong possibility, but he'll come much cheaper than he would have a few years ago.