Cubs release last year’s second half superhero Frank Schwindel
Frank Schwindel, thanks for the memories.
After last summer’s massive sell-off, three Chicago Cubs players had some Cinderella-esque moments down the stretch: Rafael Ortega, Patrick Wisdom and Frank Schwindel. While I didn’t invent the team AAAA player, this trio seemed to fit that classification almost perfectly.
Still, the trio helped make a hopeless season somewhat exciting, as we all endured the emotional separation from ‘the core.’ True fans appreciated and enjoyed their success. Schwindel is already 30 years old, while Ortega and Wisdom are both 31. Could lightning strike twice? That was the question heading into the 2022 season.
Please allow me to make a feeble attempt at explain baseball salaries and economics. Disclaimer: I am not an economist, lawyer, or any of that. I am a guy typing in his basement.
Last spring, I attended a baseball conference and listened to a professor explain something like ‘The exploitation of minor league baseball players.’ To quote Yogi Bear, I think ‘I’m smarter than the average bear, Boo Boo,’ but at some point, this thing was more Adam Smith than Abner Doubleday. Let me try to simplify it for you, and me.
Triple-A players are paid approximately $700 a week. That’s it. It’s even less at the lower levels. Their season is about twenty-six weeks, totaling $18,200. The MLB minimum is $700,000. Let’s not split hairs here, I am making educated guesses, but if a Triple-A player comes up for a week, I believe they get pro-rated weekly pay. $700,000 divided by 52 weeks (MLB players are paid year-round) is just a tick under $13,500. That call Jared Young just just got is celebratory in MANY ways.
I am happy for anyone in who legally makes good money. Take the aforementioned trio, for example. Wisdom came up May 25, 2021 and has been on the roster since. Doing my best Dr. Evil that’s over ‘one million dollars.’ He has hit a lot of home runs. I also saw him do a commercial on Marquee Network recently, frosting that income cake. Ortega came up the day after Wisdom, so he’s in the same boat financially. The Cubs are the eighth MLB team he has played on, so he’s very familiar with this.
Cubs: Frank Schwindel couldn’t catch lightning in a bottle a second time
Schwindel came up last July 30 and was sent to Iowa (to stay) this July 8. That’s a healthy chunk of change – regardless of the somewhat muted end to his Cubs career. All I can say is this: we had a great time with this guy. He hit well last year (winning back-to-back NL Rookie of the Month honors to close out the season) and with his effusive personality, that guy will never have to buy a beer in Wrigleyville.
After throwing up a casual 165 OPS+ last year down the stretch, Schwindel was less than half that player in 2022, evidenced by a -1.2 bWAR and 78 OPS+ in 75 games. This was the right call from the front office, especially with the tough 40-man decisions that are right around the corner.
This is just the first domino to fall here. Matt Mervis is coming. Brennen Davis and Pete Crow-Armstrong will soon be two-thirds of the Chicago outfield, and that doesn’t even consider the plethora of other prospects on the rise in the system.
When Ortega broke his finger recently, ending his season, I told my wife that might be it for him. I have nothing against these guys, but numbers don’t lie and we saw a better indication of their ability this year than last. I am glad they have this success and wish them well. If all are gone next year, there is a good chance they can catch on with another team, as Ortega has repeatedly, but for now, it’s just, “Franks for the memories.”