According to The Athletic‘s Ken Rosenthal, who opened with a warning to outlets like Cubs Insider that would seek to sensationalize his reporting, there have been “trade conversations between the Yankees and Cubs regarding left fielder Kyle Schwarber.” And not just the talk from 2016 that would have brought Andrew Miller to Chicago. Immediately after noting the continuing talks, however, Rosenthal made clear that there is no momentum on a deal ($) and there may never be.
See, Ken, we don’t all just steal — er, repurpose — all the information just for clicks. Wait, I guess we do.
Rather than throw it out there as a way to generate discussion, Rosenthal is presenting any Schwarber discussions more as a means by which to illustrate the respective teams’ needs. New York is seeking a lefty bat and we’ve already seen how much they value lots of thunder in the lineup. Schwarber’s second-half improvements mean that he’s far more than just a masher, so it’s understandable that other teams would be looking at him.
That spike in performance means the Cubs are still going to require a big return, though moving Schwarber and his projected $8 million salary (which will go up again next season, especially with another big performance) might give them room to sign Nicholas Castellanos. Even if Castellanos hasn’t actually agreed in principle to a return to Chicago, it’s entirely possible he’s willing to wait on the Cubs to find a way to afford his asking price.
It’s also clear that the Cubs are open for business, as evidenced by the persistent trade rumors and Theo Epstein’s fervent repetition of the mantra that no one is untouchable. As Rosenthal puts it, the Cubs are “hellbent on avoiding the fates of teams such as the Phillies, Giants and Tigers,” all of whom ran out of gas after putting the pedal to the metal for a few years at a time. With all due respect, though, no one in their right mind would trade the Giants’ three World Series titles in exchange for less futility of late.
The Tigers and Phillies are perhaps better examples, but a lot of that is based on unique respective circumstances based on each team’s market and ownership. What’s more, Phillies owner John Middleton spoke publicly about spending “stupid money” to get back to their old winning ways. Whether it’s a cyclical function based on lying low for a while or the realization that it’s okay to go big on free agents, Philly hardly offers a cautionary tale.
Regardless, it appears inevitable that the Cubs will be making some big personnel moves in the coming weeks as they finally engage in a reckoning that never came last season. With scant room in the budget and multiple roster spots to fill, they’ve got little choice but to trade a player or three in order to free up money and bring back more players in return. Clamor all you want for Albert Almora Jr.’s departure, he ain’t bringing back young pitching or a leadoff hitter.
Or the Cubs could just, you know, sign free agents and put a solid enough product on the field and on Marquee Sports Network to more than make up for the additional luxury tax penalties it would cost them.