Chicago Cubs: With any luck, smiles from these guys could be back in 2021
Schwarber is another guy I’d (for lack of a better term) look to lowball a bit this season. Many still think the guy isn’t perfect, but his exit velocity numbers remain consistently high. With a minor adjustment to his launch angle and aggressiveness in the zone in 2021, there could be many more home runs and doubles.
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Many also forget Schwarber was on pace for a fine 2020 campaign until he suffered a gigantic swoon in September; he couldn’t get right. On September 3, Schwarber was slashing .238/.340/.516, which is basically in line with career numbers.
I’m betting he puts up comparable numbers to that in 2021; if there is a DH in the NL again in ’21, this is an even easier bet to extend him after a rough 2020 season. He cannot only play left field most of the time, but he can also DH on days where a different defensive look might be warranted/desired.
If they’re not going to trade Rizzo or Contreras, I’d also make a play to keep both of them on team-friendly deals. Rizzo seems likely to settle for less money to continue to be in Chicago, where he does so much for the team and community. Four or five more years for a guy who plays first base isn’t the worst idea if you think he’ll bounce back next year.
Contreras is the one guy out of those mentioned thus far who isn’t a free agent after 2021 as he has an extra year to wait. If the Cubs are buying his defensive framing improvements and think he’ll trend the way he did in September, offering him a team-friendly deal isn’t the worst idea. Plus, even if they want to keep Victor Caratini and Miguel Amaya proves ready sooner rather than later, Contreras would continue to be one of the biggest trade chips and assets the Cubs possess.