The Cubs non-tendered Kyle Schwarber and Albert Almora on Wednesday.
Kyle Schwarber’s time with the Chicago Cubs is potentially over. Albert Almora‘s time as a Cub is likely over. They were both non-tendered by the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday, making them free agents. However, Gordon Wittenmyer reported that a new contract for Schwarber is possible, with discussions ongoing.
In addition to Schwarber and Almora, outfielder/DH Jose Martinez and relief pitcher Ryan Tepera were also non-tendered. Tepera, you may remember, received an MVP vote after a voter clicked the wrong name on the ballot. Tepera was one of the Cubs’ most effective relievers, striking out 13.5/9 and posted an ERA just under four. Martinez, who was acquired from the eventual American League Champion Tampa Bay Rays at the trade deadline, did not record a hit in a Cubs’ uniform.
The non-tender was a long-time coming for Almora, however. His offense never really came around and after the emergence of Ian Happ in center field, Almora saw his playing time dwindle gradually before only receiving 34 plate apperances in 2020. It’s easy to sympathize with Almora, and one common narrative is that he never got enough chances. He appeared in 130+ games three straight years from 2017-2019, and just could never find his stroke at the dish
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Back to Schwarber, the Cubs let go of a player that found himself in 2018-19, with a wRC+ of 115 and 120 in each year, respectively. In 2019, he smacked 38 dingers and drove in 92 runs. In the shortened 2020 season, he had a wRC+ of just 90 and had a SLG% of under .400. Offense was down across the whole league and it’s hard to hold that against him.
It’s very easy to say that the non-tender of Schwarber signals a philosophy change offensively, from more power based to contact based. That is very possible, but with the talks of a contract “extension” ongoing, it should be encouraging. Of course, that doesn’t mean a deal will get done, as there are a lot of moving parts with things like this.
One of the more intriguing names on the Cubs was Kris Bryant. He was tendered a contract, which was expected, but now the question goes to whether the team keeps him or trade him in the last year of his deal.
An argument could have been made that Chicago should have let him go given his career injury issues and an inability to stay fully healthy. It’s a 162-game season most years, nobody is going to stay healthy for the full season, no matter how much players play through it.
The most interesting storyline in the next few days is the Schwarber stuff. Will an extension come, or will Cubs’ fans have pain in their hearts that one of the heroes of the World Series team is gone?