Cubs: Universal DH is coming; a Kyle Schwarber reunion remains unlikely

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

With news this week that MLB owners approved the universal designated hitter, National League clubs now have one more critical spot in the order to fill out before the season begins. Ideally, you’re not just plugging a bench piece into that spot – and can instead add someone who brings real value to the club out of the position.

For the Chicago Cubs, there’s little doubt there’s still plenty of room for additions – and exploring a reunion with Kyle Schwarber could be one avenue the team goes down once the lockout concludes.

Now, let me preface this by saying that Schwarber’s market – along with other guys like Nick Castellanos and Nelson Cruz – just got a lot stronger. All three have defensive limitations, but offer tremendous upside at the plate. Now, instead of American League teams being the only suitors who could overlook their lapses with the glove, all 30 teams have that luxury.

We all know the story. After a horrendous 2020 season in which he batted just .188/.308/.393, Schwarber found himself non-tendered by Chicago, along with fellow former first-rounder Albert Almora. He caught on with the Washington Nationals – and never looked back.

With the Nationals, Schwarber was hitting balls out of the yard at a historic pace this summer – and even an injury wasn’t enough to dissuade the Red Sox from acquiring him at the deadline. When the dust settled, the 28-year-old slugger smacked 32 home runs in just 399 at-bats, setting himself up for a big-time payday in his first foray into free agency.

Kyle Schwarber makes sense for the Cubs, but that won’t matter

Which brings us back to the Cubs, a team with a tremendous amount of payroll leeway right now and a clear need offensively. You can’t possibly bet on Frank Schwindel and Patrick Wisdom performing like they did down the stretch and if Chicago trades Willson Contreras, this becomes a ramshackle roster real quick.

The money is there – and if reports on what Schwarber’s looking for are accurate – the Cubs should be all over the former fan favorite. The main problem here is going to come from the high level of interest he’s going to garner on the open market. He’s been connected to a plethora of teams already this winter, including the Rockies, Phillies, Marlins, Nationals and Red Sox.

Next. A new offer from owners should be coming soon. dark

The fit makes sense. But with that level of competition for his powerful bat, I suspect Jed Hoyer sticks to his guns, refuses to overspend (especially with the team reevaluating what it has internally in 2022) and Schwarber winds up elsewhere.