If the Chicago Cubs are going to transform their offense this offseason, seeking additional impact (read: power), that will necessarily require not only outside additions, but also some playing time, or roster, subtractions.
What that has meant, among other discussions, is that we’ve had to at least entertain the very difficult conversation about what it could look like if the Cubs traded Kyle Schwarber. His name has been floated multiple times already this offseason as a possible Cubs trade candidate, and he’s come up once again:
#Cubs unlikely to add significant $ this offseason. Best chance for substantial change would be if they move a core piece such as Schwarber to address other needs.
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) November 5, 2018
To be sure, Sherman seems to be speaking generally here, and is parroting a line that has exploded across the media over the past 72 hours. But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t also heard this from a credible source (again, Cubs sure seem to want this message out there!), and it also doesn’t mean that Schwarber’s name, specifically, was not mentioned.
That said, I would find it curious if the Cubs did not pair a Schwarber trade with an impactful offensive free agent signing. Otherwise, what exactly would be the point of trading Schwarber? So you could pick up a reliever in a free agent market overflowing with good ones? So you could trade Schwarber’s bat for … another bat?
In other words, I don’t necessarily see a Schwarber trade out there for an impact bat being realistic, and I don’t necessarily see a Schwarber trade out there for a reliever making sense. And although you’d always be happy to have a cost-controlled young starting pitcher in the house, making that kind of move would pretty much require the Cubs to trade *from* the rotation. Not an impossible sequence, but sure as heck hard to coordinate.
Then you’re left with the possibility that the Cubs could add an outfielder in free agency – maybe not from the top tier, but from a secondary tier – and trade Schwarber for other value (prospects? multiple relievers? an extremely good, young, cheap reliever?). Again, I see that as plausible, but I do come back to the long piece we put together on what a Schwarber trade would look like if it were actually entertained: it makes a heck of a lot more sense if the Cubs were adding a guy like Bryce Harper, who is roughly the same age, plays roughly the same position, and is roughly the same type of offense player … just with more actualized upside and more certainty attached.
And if that approach is out the window because of budgetary constraints (still a rumor, of course), then I’m just not sure I see the obvious and realistic version of a Schwarber trade that I’d jump all over. I still believe in the upside in that bat, and I think a lot of folks severely underrate just how valuable he was this past season.
I’ve been surprised before by things this front office has done, though, including trades I did not see coming and subsequently very much appreciated. You must consider everything. This remains a thread worth following this offseason.