Chicago Cubs: Epstein wants to try to keep position core intact


Despite rumors to the contrary, a new report indicates the Chicago Cubs have no intentions of shopping outfielder/catcher Kyle Schwarber this winter.

After the Cubs rookie laid an egg (multiple times) defensively during the National League Championship Series, national and local media began speculating that Schwarber was too much of a defensive liability to be untouchable in trades this winter.

Thus began the craziness that led to calls that the Cleveland Indians or some other team ripe with young, controllable pitching talent could swoop in and land Schwarber this offseason as Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer look to add to the team’s group of arms.

Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago recapped Epstein’s end-of-year remarks in a piece he penned earlier this week, breaking down just why he thinks its completely ludicrous to entertain the idea of trading Schwarber this winter.

"“I would love to have our entire position group back,” Epstein said. “I think the competition is good, the depth is great, the redundancy is important, and it’s a significant competitive advantage to have a solution at the ready if something goes wrong. It’s a competitive advantage to make out a lineup tailored for that night’s opposing pitcher. It’s a huge advantage."

Many have pointed to the team’s logjam up the middle with the likes of Javier Baez, Starlin Castro, Kris Bryant and Addison Russell seeking to fill three infield positions, as a reason the Cubs could deal young hitting talent in the coming months.

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The outfield situation could quickly become just as crowded, especially once the likes of Albert Almora and Billy McKinney get a little more time under their belts in the Minor Leagues. Throw in a combination of Jorge Soler, Chris Coghlan and potentially Dexter Fowler, should he return, and it’s easy to see why the team has to do something in the semi-near future.

You only get to field eight players in the NL, not counting the pitcher, of course. Simply put, the Chicago Cubs have so much up-and-coming position player talent that they’re running out of spots to put them, which, as Epstein said, is a nice problem to have.

The Cubs’ president of baseball operations did admit that while he’d like to keep his core intact, it just may not be possible – especially in today’s world, where even mediocre starting arms are fetching deals in excess of $50 million.

"“It might not be possible. We have some other areas we need to address. We may be forced … to take away from that position-player group to add pitching. I don’t know.”"

Now, Rogers makes plenty of good points in his piece – and it’s definitely worth reading in its entirety so you can get the full breadth of his argument. But when I look at the Chicago Cubs’ roster, it comes down to numbers: within the next couple of seasons, the club will literally run out of spots to put these young pieces, instead being forced to relegate someone to the bench.

It probably won’t be Schwarber who’s dealt, but I can’t help but think that someone as crafty and intelligent as Theo Epstein will understand the inherent value in the chips he has – and will utilize them in a way that maximizes return to the organization.

If that means trading a controllable young talent, so be it. Then again, maybe he somehow manages to keep this group together, giving opposing NL clubs’ pitching staffs nightmares for the better part of the coming decade.

Next: Bullpen decisions loom for Cubs' front office