Kyle Schwarber Drawing Lots of Interest, Cubs Reunion Unlikely Despite Need for Lefty Power
That Kyle Schwarber was allowed to walk over an estimated $10 million salary remains one of the great mysteries of the 2021 season, particularly when the Cubs replaced him with a very similar player. And while a case for replacing him with Joc Pederson — stronger glove, better against high heat — existed, both players ended their respective seasons in much better situations than had they remained in Chicago.
It’s easy to Doc Brown the situation and think back on what could have been had the Cubs just held onto Schwarber and watched him hit 25 homers through July 1. He blasted 16 of those dingers from June 12-29, all from the leadoff spot, after the Nationals got him back into more of a squat to maximize his power. A slugging Schwarber batting first in the order? Joe Maddon must have been smiling.
Jed Hoyer, on the other hand, was kicking himself because the hottest hitter on the planet — even with a hamstring injury — fetched a bigger return than a guy with a 90 wRC+ and 11 homers at the break. No offense to Bryce Ball or anything, just that Schwarber landed the Nats 20-year-old righty Aldo Ramirez, who is now their No. 10 overall prospect.
But who knows, maybe Schwarber would have been terrible with the Cubs while Pederson went on to rake with the Nats and everything ends up the same. Water, as they say, does have a way of finding its level. Then there’s that whole thing about fresh starts and second chances, which naturally brings us to speculation about a lefty slugger and his old team that remains desperate for power on the left side of the plate.
While the Cubs already have a significant cache of outfielders, Schwarber played a little first base for the Red Sox in the postseason and the universal DH makes him that much easier to fit on the roster. He’s obviously familiar with Chicago and wouldn’t have to acclimate to the city or organization, so that’s a plus. Even his contract wouldn’t be problem, though it’d be pretty funny if the Cubs ended up paying him six times what they couldn’t afford a year ago.
According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, Schwarber’s asking price is a three-year deal “in the $60 million range.” That’s exactly the kind of short-term, high AAV deal Hoyer said he’d be targeting this winter and it would be very similar to what the Cubs were able to work out with Marcus Stroman. We could argue about whether something like this would make sense if Carlos Correa is truly an option, and I’m sure many folks out there are throwing up in their mouths at the thought of Schwarber getting $20 million a year, but it’s not out of the question.
A bigger stumbling block than fit or cost might simply be competition, which is not going to be lacking for a man with prodigious power and top-tier on-base skills. Schwarber’s 13.6% walk rate was just above his career average and ranked 11th in MLB among 188 players with at least 400 plate appearances last season. His career-high .374 OBP ranked 16th and was much higher than usual due to his .266 average, though that’s actually the low end of what the Cubs thought he could be when they drafted him fourth overall in 2014.
That report about his contract desire came out of Miami because the Marlins had been pursuing Schwarber prior to the lockout. They had also been in on Nick Castellanos, whose desire for a much longer deal had them looking elsewhere. The Phillies also had “serious” talks with Schwarber, the Red Sox are interested in bringing him back, and the Rockies have been linked as they apparently want to compete after tearing things down last year. Gee, that sounds familiar.
It’s interesting to note that the Rockies have also been mentioned frequently as being in pursuit of Kris Bryant, whose projected contract and list of potential suitors are both bigger than Schwarber’s. Jon Heyman named the Padres, Angels, Mets, Phillies, Mariners, Giants in addition to the Rockies on his Big Time Baseball podcast the other day, though none of those teams represent any sort of breaking news.
I’d quite enjoy seeing Bryant and Schwarber mashing for the Rockies since it’d be pretty fun and generally wouldn’t hurt the Cubs. Unless, that is, the Cubs stumble down the stretch and lose Game 163 to fall into the Wild Card against the Rockies. But that’s a very specific situation that could never, ever happen. Right?
Anyway, there’s not much new to discuss and there won’t be for quite some time. With that in mind, we’ll try to keep digging up little bits of info here and there to discuss throughout the lockout and we hope you’ll see fit to keep coming back to see what we find.