Chicago Cubs: What does the future hold for outfielder Matt Szczur?
With so many trade pieces within the Chicago Cubs organization, which ones would Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer be willing to part ways with in order to bring in, say another veteran arm?
It’s no secret that Epstein will continue to search for another pitcher like he did last season, but you can forget about him dishing out another huge contract such as the one southpaw Jon Lester received last winter.
A few guys that can and will draw interest from other clubs will be both Jorge Soler and Kyle Schwarber who flexed their muscles during the regular and postseason, leading the Cubs to the NLCS against the New York Mets.
As of right now, Chicago’s outfield looks a bit slim. Veteran outfielder’s Dexter Fowler and Austin Jackson are both free agents along with Chris Denorfia who may be the odd-man out (aside from Szczur) when it comes to possible returns.
This means Soler is officially the only Cubs outfielder who is under contract (2020) as Chris Coghlan is eligible for arbitration this year, potentially becoming a fourth outfielder for Joe Maddon.
And this is where young Matt Szczur enters the picture. There’s no doubt that Szczur is a reliable player Chicago can call upon when they need a fresh glove and or bat, which was proven this season.
Not only has Szczur contributed to one of Chicago’s many walk-off wins this season, he’s been called up a handful of times throughout the year and played pretty well.
The 26-year-old from New Jersey finished the year with one homer, eight RBI, six walks, five doubles, 16 hits and five runs with a batting line of .222/.278/.333 in 72 at-bats.
His play with the Triple-A Iowa Cubs improved compared to his 2014 totals when he swatted a personal career-high eight home runs.
During the 2011 campaign, Szczur split time with the Dayton Cubs and Peoria Chiefs. He ended the year with 10 homers, 46 RBI, three triples, 22 doubles, and 131 hits while slashing .293/.335.423.
In a way, his style of play resembles former Chicago Cub’ Sam Fuld who was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays several years ago. He just has a tad bit more pop in his bat, which makes him a valuable trade piece.
With Schwarber and Kris Bryant receiving playing time out in left field ahead of Coghlan’s demotion, the future doesn’t look so bright for Szczur as we push towards Cactus League play.
If Jackson returns to the Cubs this off-season, he’ll more than likely come off the bench along with Chris and fill in right or center field. Re-signing Fowler would be huge, but bringing back Jackson on at least a one-year deal could make things a lot easier on the front-office.
A trade package including Szczur could reel in at least a fourth starter or someone who could help out in the bullpen. Either way, his time with the Chicago Cubs may be coming to an end.
As much as we would hate to see him go, that’s the business side of the game we love so much.