It was already the case that I had trouble seeing a realistic trade out there involving Kyle Schwarber that the Cubs would actually consider as improving their organization, but I have even more trouble getting there after reading a little snippet slid into a recent Sahadev Sharma article at The Athletic.
.@sahadevsharma with a smart column on Theo Epstein “not ruling anything out” this offseason and why the Cubs probably can’t trade Schwarber this offseason even if they want to. https://t.co/ZM9gQk9FOp
— The Athletic (@TheAthleticCHI) November 7, 2018
Among many, many other interesting things, Sharma notes Schwarber’s potentially depressed trade value and writes, “It doesn’t help that Schwarber is coming off a disc-related back issue that limited him to 18 games in September and October and kept him from making a couple road trips with the team to avoid long flights. How that is affecting his trade value isn’t completely clear, but it’s certainly not a positive.”
To be honest, I hadn’t consider this an “issue” at all. Sure, it was clear his back was bothering him late in the year, as we all know. But what we didn’t know is the possibility that it was “disc-related,” and that it could be something requiring management (and associated with risk) going forward. To be sure, Sharma says the Cubs consider Schwarber’s medical status “all clear,” but he’s quite right to point out that it’s something other teams would consider very carefully in a trade. Back issues – if there is a structural component – rarely just go away. They can be managed, and they don’t always lead to recurrent or long-term problems, but, yeah, this would be on teams’ radars, and kudos to Sharma for reminding us.
So, then, this is all the more reason not to expect a trade involving Schwarber this offseason, despite the persistent rumors and speculation to the contrary. Schwarber’s perceived and potential value to the Cubs is probably going to outpace his market value in trade this offseason, and unless you’re desperate to move a guy, that’s not a recipe for a completed transaction.
As long as Schwarber is healthy, I have no problem with the Cubs continuing to plan on him being their most-of-the-time left fielder next year, while adding to the overall outfield mix in some other way.