The (still very unlikely, in my view) discussion last night about a Cubs-Kris Bryant reunion reminded me of something I’d been wanting to at least mention. We have talked a lot about how the Cubs need to get some left-handed power into the lineup, and there are a couple old friends who would fit that bill. One of them came up in recent reports about the asking price, so let’s chat a minute.
I’m talking about Kyle Schwarber, who was non-tendered by the Cubs this time last year, exploded with the Nationals, was traded to the Red Sox mid-year, and overall hit a ridiculous .266/.374/.554 (145 wRC+) over 473 plate appearances. It was the kind of performance we always knew was in there, but maybe it was never going to happen with the Cubs. Or maybe the Cubs just totally whiffed.
In any case, it set Schwarber up for a really nice payday upon a return to free agency, where he’ll sign in advance of his age 29 season. With the DH likely coming to the NL, pretty much any team could be involved, depending on the price tag. To that end, a report out of Florida gives the heads up on what Schwarber might be seeking, with a reference to another old friend who is also a prime member of the bat-first free agent market:
The Marlins have reached out on both Schwarber and Nick Castellanos. But Castellanos, at this point, is viewed as too expensive.
Schwarber ultimately might be, too, but the Marlins remain in contention for him; the current asking price is a three-year deal in the $60 million range, and the Marlins must decide if they’re willing to go that high.
That’s not an egregious price tag for a guy who could very plausibly duplicate his 2021 offensive performance over the next few years – again, we knew that level was in him – but it’s certainly a bit higher AAV than you typically see for bat-only types. As we discussed previously on Schwarber after he hit free agency (and said, no, he didn’t feel screwed by the Cubs):
Now we find out what kind of market there is for Kyle Schwarber’s services. Bat-only guys tend not to top $50 million total too often, with JD Martinez’s $110 million deal with Boston being an extreme outlier (and coming off four straight huge offensive seasons). But Schwarber *can* play a corner outfield spot, and maybe even a little first base now. And bat-only guys are about to see the market for their services effectively double. I don’t think it would be crazy to see him get something in the four-year, $15-20 million range. He might get even more from a team that believes his breakout was tied, specifically, to the sticky stuff enforcement (he used to get beat at the top of the zone by high-spin four-seamers quite a bit, if I remember correctly, and he was hammering that stuff this year during his hot streak).
Heck, Schwarber might use Nick Castellanos’s deal with the Reds (4/$64M, two opt outs) as a comp, though Castellanos was a bit younger, and had been improving defensively at the time of the deal (he was a recent outfield convert). Kinda funny, considering the Cubs connection there, and also the fact that Castellanos is, himself, hitting the market again this offseason. I like Castellanos’s bat overall a good bit better than Schwarber’s (less upside, but also less risk), but it’s not like I’d be mad if rumors about Schwarber and the Cubs started popping up! (I just don’t expect it right now.)
For the Cubs, at this period in time, I’d be surprised if they were looking to go 3/$60M on Schwarber, but I also wouldn’t entirely rule out the idea that the Cubs could give him a look. They’re into short-term deals (he may be as well), they need the left-handed power, there is that familiarity and no hard feelings, etc. We’ll see if rumors actually percolate over the coming months, but I tend to think it’s more likely Schwarber re-ups with the Red Sox when all is said and done, particularly after the Hunter Renfroe trade.