Since the emergence of Kyle Schwarber during the 2015 season, many teams inquired about a trade for the Cubs’ slugger. But, as many front office executives believe, Schwarber is one of those exceptional bats that only come along so often. So, off course the Cubbies would like to hold on to their slugger, so that he can make a big impact on helping the franchise continue on to capture more titles. However, with the Cubbies’ significant depth, is there enough room for Schwarber to be an everyday starter?
Chicago began the 2016 campaign having Schwarber in left field, Dexter Fowler in center, Heyward in right, and Ben Zobrist at 2nd base. But, as the season progressed, and the playoffs came rise to a new star in Javier Baez, the question of Schwarber’s starter eligibility is again in play. Javier Baez has obviously earned his title as starting second baseman, which has pushed Ben Zobrist to left field, so where does that leave Schwarber?
Luckily there is an X-factor this offseason, as Dexter Fowler is a free agent. Consider the possibility of the speedy outfielder not resigning with the world champs; Zobrist would be in right field, while Jason Heyward moves to center, which puts Schwarber in left. But, Fowler was a vital part of the Cubbies’ squad this season as his WAR was an astonishing 4.2, so despite him declining his half of the mutual 2017′ contract option, the uncertainty of his return still doesn’t give an answer to the Schwarber debacle.
Kyle Schwarber was brought up as a catcher for the most part, and was supposed to be the Cubs’ future behind the plate, but that may not be an option either. Wilson Contreras, another top catching prospect for the 2016 champs, slugged .488 in 76 games as a rookie this season, while he proved to have a cannon for the ages behind the plate as well. Clearly, with David Ross retiring and Miguel Montero no longer in his prime, Contreras will be the the Opening Day starter at catcher.
The only solution to having Schwarber be an everyday starter in 2017 with the same group of guys on the roster, would be if Baez returns to his high strikeout rate and underperforms in Spring Training meaning losing his job at second base. A trade may seem like the logical solution unless the Cubs are willing to part ways with the next Babe Ruth. Considering the contract and the WS MVP trophy, Ben Zobrist shall not be the one traded. Javier Baez though, may be a better trade option, meaning Zobrist goes back to second base. With that option, the Cubbies could then sign a free agent outfielder such as Josh Reddick or Colby Rasmus, but only if Fowler doesn’t resign. Either way, having Dexter back in a Cubs uniform, and no trade acquisition, why have Schwarber if his talents can’t be used to full extent?