It all started with this Dan Vogelbach tweet only moments ago:
Obviously, Vogelbach is not referencing a mere call-up to AAA Iowa.
As we discussed last week before the Cubs played two games in Detroit, a temporary call-up to the big leagues for Schwarber when the Cubs head to Cleveland to start a five-day trip through AL parks (i.e., using the designated hitter) made some sense. I’ll just re-include here what I wrote then instead of restating everything:
So, let’s consider some logistical points:
The 40-man roster stands at just 39, so there’s already an open spot if the Cubs wanted to add Schwarber.
It’s possible that Schwarber was going to come up at some point later this year, so that addition to the 40-man was going to be necessary anyway. (Further, that would make 2015 Schwarber’s first option year – and I doubt option years wind up mattering for a guy like Schwarber anyway.)
Although the focus right now remains on developing Schwarber as a catcher, would coming up for a short stint in the big leagues as a DH really inhibit his catching development?
With eight pitchers in the bullpen right now [this has since been bumped up to nine], it sure seems like the Cubs could drop a pitcher in favor of a bat right now if they were so inclined. That pitcher could come back after the AL games next week if the Cubs felt like things were tight on the pitching side.
If the Cubs added Schwarber for tomorrow’s game, they would either have to carry him all the way through the Cleveland/Minnesota series from June 17 to 21, or would have to option him down after Wednesday’s game in Detroit, and then not be able to recall him until the final game against the Twins (players optioned cannot be recalled for 10 days unless there’s an injury and they are replacing the injured player on the roster). In other words, the Cubs would realistically have to decide between carrying Schwarber for 13 games, only 7 of which will involve a DH, or waiting to call up Schwarber on June 17 for the five AL park games that follow. The latter seems slightly more realistic than the former, but it’s not like the Cubs couldn’t find a way to use Schwarber’s bat off the bench in those middle six games.
A promotion to AAA Iowa figures to be coming very soon for Schwarber. I don’t see a lot of harm in promoting him to the bigs right now so the Cubs can use his bat – and he can get a little taste of big league pitching – and then, when optioning him back down, just sending him straight to Iowa. He then continues catching for another month or two, and then the Cubs evaluate whether it’s best for him to come up and help down the stretch. They’d have more data at that point about whether he’s ready for the challenge of big league pitching and whether he can contribute meaningfully.
That all still sounds correct to me, right on down to the expected path – DH’ing through the weekend, and then heading to AAA Iowa.
And, indeed, Jesse Rogers hears that’s exactly what’s going to happen:
@kschwarb12 to be with the Cubs from Tues-Sunday to DH, bat off the bench, be a 3rd catcher and get a taste of big leagues. Then to AAA
— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) June 16, 2015
Get excited folks. This is really happening. No, it’s not a total full promotion, but Kyle Schwarber and his ridiculously good bat will really be in the big leagues starting tomorrow.
UPDATE from the man in charge:
Theo says Schwarber will "contribute as a designated hitter, as a bat off the bench, and as a third catcher" before returning to minors
— Mark Gonzales (@MDGonzales) June 16, 2015
Theo on Schwarber: "Regardless of how this week goes, Kyle will head to Triple-A after Sunday’s game." #Cubs
— Patrick Mooney (@CSNMooney) June 16, 2015
I really, really love this plan. I see plenty of upside – both for the Cubs and for Schwarber – and very little risk of downside.
Had Javier Baez and Jorge Soler not been hurt at the same time, maybe this doesn’t happen right now. But they did, and given that Schwarber is hitting .318/.439/.578 over 238 AA plate appearances with a 17.6% walk rate (20.2% strikeout rate), I’d say he’s worth a look.