Regardless of what you may think about Kyle Schwarber, his future as a member of the Chicago Cubs may be on more solid footing given recent reports.
It might not be happening today, but it’s looking more and more like the designated hitter will be coming to the National League sooner rather than later. According to Jim Bowden, there’s a ‘growing belief amongst NL GMs’ that the designated hitter could be instituted as early as 2021.
Obviously, such a drastic change would impact all 15 Senior Circuit clubs in a significant way. But for a team like the Cubs, who have a player in Kyle Schwarber who many believe has a future as a DH – it could play a huge role in how they view their trade chips this year.
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We’ve heard about the team shopping former MVP Kris Bryant all winter long. With his service time grievance finally settled, Theo Epstein can plot a course of action in that regard. Another name we’ve heard in trade rumors for years? Schwarber.
Early in his career, Schwarber was a backstop. We all know that. But a devastating 2016 knee injury stopped that in its tracks and the former first-rounder instead returned as a corner outfielder.
Simultaneously, he underwent a dramatic physical transformation – turning into a leaner, more athletic player. This helped him improve defensively, although a lot of people still think the Cubs could find a more well-rounded piece to man left field. That would become a lot more feasible with the designated hitter coming to the National League.
With all the talk about rebuilding, re-tooling and everything in-between on the North Side, no one is untouchable right now. No one. So it might sound like a stretch saying Chicago won’t trade Schwarber in coming years. But the way I look at it, they shouldn’t – because he brings a valuable presence to the order.
Last season, Schwarber turned in a monster second half – which was somehow overlooked by a lot of fans because of Nicholas Castellanos, who played out of his mind after coming to the Cubs at the trade deadline.
He belted a career-high 38 home runs and over the season’s final month, he hit .341/.419/.681. His average didn’t finish quite where you’d like it, but today’s game is trending more and more toward favoring on-base percentage over average. And in that department, he did just fine, reaching at a .339 clip. Given his make-up at the plate, that number could definitely continue to improve moving forward, as well.
I know this year will shape the future of the Chicago Cubs. None of us really know what to expect given the team has a new skipper and hasn’t improved the roster that won just 84 games a year ago. Even knowing that, though, we’re also aware that Epstein is thinking about the long game this offseason – and knowing that the designated hitter will eventually be implemented in the NL, trading Schwarber would be a tremendous mistake.