This is a Massive Defensive Upgrade for a Team That Needed One
We’ll start with Báez’s biggest strength: He’s a phenomenal defensive presence. That would be a benefit to any team, but especially so to the Tigers, who ranked dead-last in defensive runs above average in 2021. (Other fielding metrics were slightly more generous to them, but all suggested that this was clearly not a good defensive team, somewhere in the bottom half of the league in just about all statistical categories.) This meant that Detroit could stand to upgrade at a few spots on the diamond. But a particularly obvious one was shortstop, which was split last year by utilityman Niko Goodrum and rookie Zach Short, and left plenty of room to be desired.
The bottom line? Detroit had a particular hole (shortstop) in a general weakness (defense), and they filled it with one of the best, most dynamic players they could have found.