Chicago Cubs: Frank Schwindel is playing like a man on a mission

(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

I don’t envy Frank Schwindel. Being the guy tapped with being, at least in the interim, the heir to Anthony Rizzo for the Chicago Cubs is hardly an ideal scenario in which to establish yourself as a big leaguer.

But, somehow, it hasn’t phased the 29-year-old first baseman, who, in an admittedly limited 63 plate appearance sample size, is slashing .390/.429/.729 since joining the Cubs organization in mid-July, when Chicago picked him up off waivers from Oakland. He made his debut with the team  on July 30 and has done some pretty remarkable things since.

"“I was very excited to get picked up by the Cubs,” Schwindel told NBC Chicago earlier this month. “It’s just an awesome opportunity and they made a bunch of moves, which gave me an opportunity to show up and play. I’ve been having a great time so far and just want to keep it going.”"

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Entering Thursday’s off-day, Schwindel has himself an eight-game hitting streak, and has notched a hit in 15 of 16 games this month. His walk rate remains low (at less than five percent) – but he’s controlled his strikeouts, as well, which has played a big role in his success.

You can likely lump Schwindel in the same bucket as Patrick Wisdom, who at 30 is experiencing an absolute monster season on the North Side with a 125 OPS+ and a team-leading 18 home runs. They’re really fun and are definite bright spots on the roster, but it’s still too soon to tell if it’s a Bryan LaHair-type scenario or if, all of the sudden, something is clicking for these guys and they could be legitimate contributors past 2021.

Chicago Cubs: One way or another, Frank Schwindel will provide value

If the Cubs head into 2022 with Schwindel entrenched at first, more than a few folks won’t feel great about the team’s chances to contend in the NL Central. But if he’s got a Corey Seager or Carlos Correa firing throws to him from across the diamond, perhaps it’s a different story.

No one – Jed Hoyer included – knows what the offseason will look like. With an expiring collective bargaining agreement between the league and MLBPA, and negotiations kicking off with MLB proposing a salary floor and lowering the luxury tax threshold, we could be looking at a rocky back-and-forth in the months to come.

If Schwindel finishes the year hot, Chicago has multiple paths forward. They can keep him in the fold regardless, as he won’t hit free agency until 2027. But if they want to sell high, they certainly can, as well – we’ll have to see how it all plays out.

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For now, we have about six weeks to enjoy watching Frank the Tank doing damage, making comical faces upon returning to the dugout and doing everything he can to prove he belongs in the big leagues from here on out.