At the outset of the offseason, back in the halcyon days of not obsessing about the Cubs’ budget every 48 hours, the biggest rumor on the trade side of things was not about dumping contracts, but was instead about whether the Cubs would move Kyle Schwarber. It came up often.
For our part, we didn’t much care for those rumors. While I could totally see other teams wanting to try to value shop on Schwarber, I don’t see him netting the kind or caliber of return that would actually make the Cubs not want to be the team that keeps his value. It would only make sense if the Cubs could get a killer return *AND* were doing it to pair the trade with a major free agent signing in the outfield – i.e., coming out of the process with more young assets overall and also similar or better big league offensive production, and doing so on the strength of their financial might. It was a tall ask even before the Cubs started aggressively managing our expectations about their ability to actually swing around any financial might at all.
So, then, consider me perfectly content and mostly unsurprised to see a report like this float out there:
Several teams have inquired on Cubs slugger Kyle Schwarber but they’ve all gotten the same response from #Cubs. No, he’s not available
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 9, 2018
(Insert obligatory joke about that meaning Schwarber is definitely being traded.)
Let’s be clear up front that I don’t actually take this report at face value. The Cubs – as they’ve explained in painstaking fashion – don’t tell anyone that any player is “not available.” That doesn’t exist in their lexicon. Every player is available.
So what is actually going on here? Well, I think what Nightengale’s report should be taken to mean is that the Cubs aren’t looking to trade Schwarber (for all the reasons we’ve discussed in the prior posts), and to the extent teams are inquiring about a value acquisition, the Cubs are saying he’s not available on that kind of deal.
If you want Kyle Schwarber, you’d have to wow the Cubs. Right or wrong, that’s how the organization feels about him, and this report underscores that fact.