Chicago Cubs: Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Anthony Rizzo – who returns?

(Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images)
(Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images) /
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Kyle Schwarber / Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: Kyle Schwarber has been next level since being non-tendered

Why re-sign him:

It would have been hard to imagine postseason hero Kyle Schwarber would eventually be non-tendered by the Cubs back in 2016. After saying goodbye to Chicago in the offseason, the 28-year-old slugger is on pace to have the best offensive season of his career. Between Washington and Boston, Schwarber (through September 22) is slashing .266/.368/.561 with 31 home runs, a .929 OPS and 145 wRC+. The average, on-base, slugging, wRC+ and OPS would all be career-highs if the season ended there.

Despite a rough 2020, it is worth noting he had a very productive 2019. He hit a career-high 38 home runs and slugged .531 that year. It was a very odd season for a number of players in 2020 with the COVID situation, and that could have taken a toll on his numbers. If you combine 2019 and 2021, his past two normal seasons, that would see a .256/.353/.544 slash with 69 home runs in 259 games. Great power and good on-base.

Like mentioned before, the Cubs will want to add more pop in the lineup next year and Schwarber can provide that. If 2020 was indeed a fluke, and 2019 and 2021 are closer to what he is, then you are getting real good production at the plate. He is also the previous core player that will not break the bank in 2022, nor will likely not command a ton of years on the next deal he gets. Despite his production it is hard to imagine bringing him back would require a long, high-spending commitment.

Why not re-sign him:

It has been said for years that Schwarber is an American League player. While his fielding in left field had improved in his final years as a Cub, he will never be more than a semi-adequate fielder. His UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) in 2021 (most fielding with the Nationals) is a career-low -2.8. Whether or not the National League gets a DH in the coming years is yet to be seen, but as it stands there is no DH spot for him to play at with the Cubs.

There are also other outfield options via free agency will are available that would be a better fit to go after. Nick Castellanos being one of them if he indeed opts out of his deal.

This might be a case where it is best for Schwarber to go to a place he can fit more appropriately. That does not necessarily seem to be the Cubs. He can go get paid to get four to five plate appearances a game and smash the ball while not spending much time in the field. One could also argue, though we cannot know for sure, that leaving Chicago was the best thing for him. Change of scenery can do wonders, even if one likes the environment they work in.

I have little doubt Schwarber loved the team, the city of Chicago and the fans, but sometimes moving on is best for both sides. He nor the Cubs might not want to revisit in trying to make certain things work again. Overall Schwarber seems very comfortable in an environment like Boston and AL teams will certainly express interest in him this winter while searching for a DH.

To recap as simply as possible:

  • Anthony Rizzo
    • Pros: Solidify the position at first and have a veteran leader. Cons: An aging player with back issues makes one wonder if his best days are behind him.
  • Kris Bryant
    • Pros: Most talented player of the bunch who is very versatile. Cons: Will garner a massive contract and has seen nagging injuries pile up in recent years.
  • Javier Baez
    • Pros: Energetic player who can produce with the bat, glove and bases. Cons: A lot of holes in the swing, which might not be acceptable going forward.
  • Kyle Schwarber
    • Pros: Big bopper who can hit the ball a country mile and get on base at a good clip. Cons: Fits better in the American League as a DH.

Next. Cubs sorting out late innings. dark

Time will tell what will happen with these guys, but no matter what does, Cubs fans should wish them the very best as they will always be World Series heroes.