Chicago Cubs: Four outfield candidates to replace Kyle Schwarber

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images
Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images /
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Chicago Cubs / Eddie Rosario
Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images /

The Chicago Cubs parted ways with outfielder Kyle Schwarber on Wednesday.

Kyle Schwarber and fellow outfielder Albert Almora Jr. were non-tendered by the Cubs, who saved nearly $10 million in estimated costs by cutting ties.

The former first-round pick had a woeful 2020, hitting below the Mendoza line with a .701 OPS and a strikeout rate close to 30 percent. Schwarber still had strong exit velocities, but his ground ball rate also skyrocketed well over 50 percent. He was also one of the worst defensive outfielders in baseball.

Now, the Cubs will have to resort to other options. Let’s go through a few potential fits available on the open market.

Chicago Cubs: Eddie Rosario is a free-swinging slugger

Our own Erik Mauro suggested the Cubs should trade for Minnesota Twins outfielder Eddie Rosario this offseason. As it turns out, that will not be necessary.

Minnesota made a somewhat surprising decision Tuesday night when it elected to waive Rosario.

The 29-year-old had been a staple of the Twins’ lineup in the past few seasons. He clubbed at least 24 homers in every season between 2017 and 2019, including 32 in 2019. Rosario hit 13 more dingers this past year, and his 115 OPS+ was the third-best mark of his career.

Signing Rosario would mark something of a shift in Chicago’s offensive approach. Schwarber epitomized Chicago’s belief in on-base guys who buy into launch angle. Only, launch angle became irrelevant when Schwarber started pounding the ball into the ground, and his tendency to take and work counts also contributed to the strikeout rate.

Conversely, Rosario is more of a free-swinger who makes contact at a fairly decent rate and still drives the ball out of the ballpark. He also had the best walk rate of his career in 2020, though it was still below 10 percent.

That said, Rosario is a poor defender and was already expected to make close to – if not more than – $10 million in arbitration prior to being waived. Would the Cubs really pay more to replace Schwarber in left field with a guy who has a worse on-base percentage?

They might, if Hoyer believes a philosophical shift can lead to more offensive success.