Kyle Schwarber sticks the dagger in deeper for Cubs fans with classy gesture

This is just another reminder that Chicago let him walk for absolutely nothing.
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Although we won't see Kyle Schwarber at the plate this week with the Philadelphia Phillies in town to play the Chicago Cubs, the longtime fan favorite took center stage after a 6-4 Phillies victory on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field with a gesture that perfectly embodies the type of leader he is.

With Zach Wheeler and Christopher Sanchez lined up for the series' final two games, the Cubs were supposed to have their best shot against rookie right-hander Michael Mercado, who was making his first big league start. Instead, he shut down Chicago, tossing five innings of one-run ball to pick up his first MLB victory.

Afterward, Schwarber ushered the 25-year-old out of the dugout, making sure as his teammates came off the field, Mercado would be at the head of the receiving line.

It's just the latest in a long line of examples that show the leader that Schwarber has become in Philadelphia. On a team loaded with big names, high-dollar contracts and star power, the behind-the-scenes stuff has helped completely transform the organizational culture. In an appearance on The North Side Territory podcast, hosted by Sahadev Sharma and Patrick Mooney, Phillies beat writer Matt Gelb went so far as to call the signing of Schwarber 'franchise-altering'.

That's obviously frustrating to Cubs fans who won't soon forget that Jed Hoyer cut Schwarber loose following the 2020 season in a blatant cost-cutting move. The shortened campaign marked the worst of his career and he quickly caught on with the Nationals, earning the first All-Star selection of his career before being traded to the Red Sox at the deadline.

Kyle Schwarber is everything this Cubs team so desperately needs

He quickly made his presence felt in Boston, both on the field and in the clubhouse, and, to this day, draws rave reviews from Red Sox manager Alex Cora. In a recent feature on Schwarber in The Athletic (subscription required), he had nothing but good things to say about the slugger, detailing some specific instances of him being a difference-maker in the clubhouse.

Across his time in Washington, Boston and Philadelphia, his reputation as a leader and incredible teammate aside, Schwarber has established himself as a powerful offensive presence. He's got a 132 OPS+ since the start of the 2021 season and is flirting with the best OBP of his career this year as the Phillies' leadoff man under manager Rob Thompson.

Meanwhile, during this stretch, we've watched the Cubs desperately search for a middle-of-the-order left-handed power bat - a void that could have been perfectly filled by Schwarber, who has averaged 36 homers a year over the last four seasons. This year, the team has looked lifeless for much of the last two months, and it sure feels like they could have benefitted from a voice in the locker room as impactful as his.