Are the Cubs better off holding onto Kyle Schwarber rather than trading him?
There was once a time I believed Schwarber would be the best of all the prospects in the Cubs’ farm system. With a swing that is short and quick to the ball, yet still vicious, it was something not many had seen before. Unfortunately, the league figured out how to pitch to Schwarbs, and now we are here discussing how he should have been traded at his peak.
The raw-power of Schwarber was on full display his rookie year when he blasted a ball on top of the right-field scoreboard in game four of the NLDS against the Cardinals. The following season, he tore his ACL in the first week of the season, but returned in the World Series and put on a hero’s worthy performance: 20 PA .412 BA .971 OPS
Since then, Schwarber has still shown his power, but has struggled to find consistency at the plate:
2015: (69 games) .246 BA .842 OPS 16 HR 43 RBI
2016: Torn ACL-Missed 160 games in the regular season
2017: (129 games) .211 BA .782 OPS 30 HR 59 RBI
2018: (137 games) .238 BA .823 OPS 26 HR 61 RBI
2019: (155 games) .250 BA .871 OPS 38 HR 92 RBI
2020: (45 games) .203 BA .742 OPS 10 HR 21 RBI
Now Epstein is left in a tough spot with his slugger. Up to this point, Schwarber has shown he will likely not be a high-average hitter in the league, but his ability to hit the long-ball still leaves him with some promise.
Perhaps the biggest concern with Schwarber is his ability to drive in runs. In his career, the outfielder has struggled with runners in scoring position: 480 PA .201 BA .770 OPS 147 RBI.
Like Bryant, I believe Schwharber would have had the most value in a trade prior to this season. There was inconsistency at the plate, but a friendly contract and still more than enough value in his bat for teams to take a gamble on–specifically an AL team who would use him as a designated hitter.
Epstein might reconsider dealing Schwarber if the DH position is made permanent in the National League. After posting the best numbers of his career last season, Schwarber has regressed so far in the 2020 season. It would be hard to imagine the Cubs getting much in return for a struggling slugger with one year remaining before he hits free agency in 2022.
It is head-scratching to see how players like Schwarber and Bryant had lost so much value when not so long ago they were considered some of the best in baseball. As we have heard all season, this run could be the last dance for the Cubs’ core who broke the 108 year World Series drought.
Regardless of what happens soon, as fans, we should not take what they did for this franchise for granted.