The Chicago Cubs will inevitably trade Kyle Schwarber somewhere. He has no clear defensive position which has him destined for the American League. The dilemma the Cubs currently face is whether it’s worth trading Schwarber for immediate help now or for long-term help later.
When Schwarber became a platoon player he lost a lot of credibility. The Cubs held onto him closely in the past, even converting him from a catcher to an outfielder in hopes of saving his body. This plan backfired last year with Schwarber suffering an early injury in just his second game of the season.
Schwarber defied the odds and managed to return in time for the World Series. He delivered for the Cubs in the five games he played. Unfortunately, that bit of magic wore off in time for 2017. Schwarber is hitting well below the Mendoza Line and striking out on average more than once per game.
Only two years after captivating audiences, Schwarber’s future as a member of the Cubs looks far more questionable. The Cubs can unload their talented slugger to help the 2017 team or hold onto him and make a deal over the winter.
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The Cubs have many more needs this summer than they did last year. By making Schwarber a member of the trade block, the Cubs can pick from a variety of trade packages and possibilities. While his value is down at the moment, he is still a 24-year-old power hitter on a rookie contract. Someone will overpay for his services.
If they make a trade this year, the Cubs would target pitching. Their starters have been surprisingly inconsistent this season. The bullpen has also shown weakness and could use improvement in some areas.
Starting pitching will become a need for Chicago this offseason. Jake Arrieta and John Lackey are both in the final year of their deals. Closer Wade Davis will also have the option to test free agency. The Cubs will need to find some way to strengthen their pitching staff. A trade involving Schwarber is one way they can accomplish this.
A lot of what the Cubs do is dependent on how far they believe they can go in this year’s playoffs. After winning last year, the desire to win is not nearly as great. The championship thirst was quenched last fall. As a result, the Cubs will probably be a lot more patient with Schwarber.
By waiting for the offseason, every team becomes a consideration for the Cubs to deal with. Right now, the Cubs are limited to those who think Schwarber can actually help them out or those with something to offer the Cubs.
If the Cubs choose the latter option and hold onto Schwarber for the rest of 2017, they should aim to acquire a younger MLB pitcher. The Tampa Bay Rays have been linked to the Cubs for several seasons with pitcher Jake Odorizzi’s name often coming up. In those previous trade rumors, it was often Javier Baez discussed.
Odorizzi is certainly one possibility. If not him, perhaps Chris Archer or another Rays pitcher could be Chicago bound. Tampa Bay certainly has the pitching depth and enough roster flexibility to find a spot for Schwarber. Their age and MLB experience would also provide the Cubs with both needs: someone to help them now and for several more seasons.
One other match that could work would keep Schwarber in Chicago, but swap sides of the city. The Chicago White Sox have three notable pitching prospects in Michael Kopech, Lucas Giolito, and Reynaldo Lopez currently in the minor leagues along with MLB starter Jose Quintana. With no clear long-term DH, Schwarber could inevitably end up in a White Sox uniform in a trade for help now (Quintana) or later (Kopech/Giolito/Lopez).
The Chicago Cubs have no reason to rush any deal quite yet. Schwarber’s slumping, though, only further secures what everyone knew: he’s no Cubs lifer.