Cubs say time was right to promote Javy Baez
BY GORDON WITTENMYER Staff Reporter August 4, 2014 9:41PM
Updated: August 4, 2014 11:41PM
DENVER — So why now?
One day later, manager Rick Renteria stressed: ‘‘There’s no hurry. There’s no pressure to do anything right now [with Baez].’’
Yet here comes Baez, who is expected to make his major-league debut at second base Tuesday against the Colorado Rockies.
What changed so fast? Certainly, it couldn’t have been the lobbying from some corners of the Cubs’ clubhouse to see Baez ‘‘soon’’?
Jason McLeod, the Cubs’ top scouting and player-development executive, said the decision was made during a 24-hour period in which Baez hit his 22nd and 23rd home runs and drew two walks Sunday for Class AAA Iowa.
‘‘As we kept having more internal conversations about it, we always talked first and foremost about his development,’’ McLeod said. ‘‘Obviously, September was out there. We’d talked about a September call-up and what that would mean.’’
Holding Baez off until next season would have added the benefit of a delayed start to his big-league service time and longer club control.
‘‘Ultimately, it fell back on what was in the best interest for him and the best interest of the team,’’ McLeod said. ‘‘He’s been really good on defense, taking a lot of pride in his defense and really just showing us this maturation process that continues to improve.’’
Baez, an All-Star shortstop throughout the minors, recently converted to second base with an eye toward a quicker path to the big-league club.
‘‘As we sat and talked about it over the weekend,’’ McLeod said, ‘‘it became more and more clear to us this was a time — now — we should really consider.’’
That doesn’t mean the floodgates are about to open wide, he said.
Highly regarded prospect Arismendy Alcantara, who figures to see a lot of time in center field now that Baez has been promoted, arrived last month. Outfielder Jorge Soler, the $30 million Cuban free agent who only in the last two months has put together a consistently healthy stretch, is on the 40-man roster and at Iowa. He might be in line for a September call-up, depending on his finish.
Beyond that, this is probably it for a glimpse into the Cubs’ vision for their future.
‘‘Obviously, my feeling is the sooner guys get up here and learn this league and fail in this league and succeed in this league,’’ All-Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo said, ‘‘the sooner we’re going to find out really where we’re at.’’