Schwarber's Future, Heyward's Winter, and Ross' Potential (Off-Field) Return to the Cubs

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Schwarber’s Future, Heyward’s Winter, and Ross’ Potential (Off-Field) Return to the Cubs

Chicago Cubs

The Cubs’ front office met with the media at the Winter Meetings this evening, yielding some items of note …

Before Kyle Schwarber returned – in downright heroic fashion – to the Chicago Cubs for the final seven games of the 2016 Postseason, the hope was that he would be able to make it back in time for winter ball, presumably to tune up against live pitching.

But well, you saw what he did in the World Series. Thus, the extent of his heroics in the World Series have apparently convinced the Cubs’ brass to take a different approach:

And, according to Jed Hoyer, while catching (or preparing to catch next season, rather) is not yet out of the question, it hasn’t been discussed either. Given the nature of Schwarber’s injuries, I would be relatively shocked if he was catching a lot (or maybe even at all) in 2017. The future beyond that is entirely unclear. Fortunately, the Cubs have their presumed starting catcher in Willson Contreras, as well as veteran Miguel Montero backing him up.

It’s not inconceivable, however, that all three catch periodically, with Contreras getting the bulk of the starts, Montero taking most of the remainder, and Schwarber getting a periodic start behind the plate. Joe Maddon also has the benefit of being able to play both of the young guns in the outfield, when necessary, so he may never lose their bats. But again, I’d preach caution on Schwarber catching all too often.

Jason Heyward has bought a house in Arizona in order to work out with assistant hitting coach Eric Hinske over the offseason:

As we all know, Heyward’s first season in Chicago was a bit of a disappointment at the plate (he did win his fourth Gold Glove award though), as he looked downright lost the entire season. Although there were stretches where things looked like they were turning the corner, his swing was clearly out of whack and he never really performed consistently well at the plate for any reasonable stretch of time.

Now, he’ll head to Arizona to examine and potentially transform his swing with the Cubs’ assistant hitting coach, Eric Hinske, with whom Heyward was teammates in Atlanta back in 2010-12. Fortunately, Heyward is well-known for his hard work; if anyone can get themselves back into a good place through sheer effort, I believe he can. I am still tentatively expecting big(ger) things from him at the plate in 2017.

And finally, some more encouraging news (this roller coast only goes up, baby), as the Cubs are reportedly “hopeful” that David Ross will return to the team in some capacity:

We’ve seen other former players return to the Cubs organization in similar roles – including John Baker, Kerry Wood, and Ted Lilly (among many others) – and Ross would be a very welcome addition to that group. It’s expected, though, that Ross will be highly sought after in his post-playing days.

The Cubs were lucky to have his leadership in the clubhouse over the past two years, and they’d be lucky to keep him on board in any other capacity. Remember, however, some rumor suggested that he was hoping to take a year off before jumping back into the swing of things, but we’ll see.

Brett Taylor contributed to this post.

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Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami