“’That was excellently observed’, say I, when I read a passage in an author, where his opinion agrees with mine. ‘When we differ, there I pronounce him to be mistaken.’” – Jonathan Swift
“Sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug.” – Mark Knopfler
It will be quite some time before I post anything remotely controversial after having to defend myself for columns I wrote yesterday and also on Saturday morning. I am loath to announce my non-tender predictions as a result, but I’ll stick with what I’ve said all along: Javier Báez, Kyle Schwarber, Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras, Ian Happ, Ryan Tepera, and Victor Caratini will be tendered contracts. That means Jed Hoyer will serve walking papers to Albert Almora Jr., Dan Winkler, Colin Rea, Kyle Ryan, and José Martínez.
In the case of Almora, the Cubs may have already signaled their intent to non-tender the former first round draft choice.
— 670 The Score (@670TheScore) November 30, 2020
The Cubs have also indicated that Bryant will be tendered a contract before today’s 7pm deadline. The two parties will have until January 15 to exchange salary numbers, or work out an extension ahead of the yet-to-be scheduled arbitration hearing. If you believe the plethora of rumors, Hoyer may choose to trade Bryant after tendering him, possibly as soon as next week’s Winter Meetings.
Don’t expect surprises today, and that includes whatever Hoyer decides on Schwarber, as dissenting baseball insiders and scores of average Joes support either tendering or non-tendering the hulking left fielder. It’s a decision that will no doubt be difficult for the Cubs’ new president of baseball operations, as (biblical) financial losses certainly change expected norms. Any paradigm shift caused by a catastrophic drop in revenues tends to land with a larger thud and, as he is not a small man, Schwarber’s potential non-tender could be one of the loudest moves in baseball today.
It is inarguable that the left fielder had a brutal year and an analysis from Chris Brown of Motor City Bengals articulates perfectly just how bad it was.
“Kyle Schwarber’s launch angle actually took a strange and precipitous drop last year, from a career average of around 15 degrees to just 8.8 degrees in 2020. He hit a greater percentage of ground balls than ever before, and he also pulled the ball at the highest rate of his career. That played right into the hands of opposing defenses, as Schwarber saw shifts in 81.6% of his plate appearances last year, a 12% increase over 2019.”
It would be nice to argue that in a normal year as a 1.2-1.8 WAR player, Schwarber is well worth his expected arb raise of anywhere between $7.01 million and $9.3 million per MLBTR. Let’s say he and the Cubs settle on a deal for about $8 million. With predictions of a 2+ WAR season in 2021, Schwarber’s surplus value figures to be in the neighborhood of $8-12 million.
Though the outfielder/DH was brutal at the plate for the entire second half of 2020, the Cubs do match up well in a potential deal with the Yankees. In actuality, they match up well with a lot of teams in need of a power hitter who is only one pandemic-shortened season shy of a 38-homer, 92-RBI campaign. Because a market for Schwarber that includes multiple teams likely exists, I believe the Cubs will tender the outfielder a 2021 contract.
I’m sure I’ll get railed in the comments section, but I don’t pretend to know any of the machinations of Hoyer’s intended 2021 roster construction. I do know, however, that getting something for Schwarber is better than nothing at all.
Cubs News & Notes
- Diamondbacks assistant general manager Jared Porter is the heavy favorite to be named Hoyer’s new GM.
- Last month our EIC Evan Altman took a look at expected arb raises for the team’s eligible players and potential non-tenders, and it’s well worth taking a second look ahead of tonight’s deadline.
- We could see whether Hoyer intends to fight for a division title in 2021 or build with an eye on 2023 as soon as today.
- The Giants may have some degree of interest in trading for Bryant.
- San Francisco is said to be focused on making smart personnel decisions over simply trying to save money.
- The continuing saga involving Bryant is further proof that baseball needs to overhaul service time restrictions so that the game’s best players are not suppressed just so organizations earn an extra year of player control.
- The Nationals probably won’t be players for Bryant, and likely won’t pursue free agent second baseman DJ Lemahieu, either.
- Hoyer might be willing to take a chance on injury-prone starter Corey Kluber to strengthen the back end of the team’s rotation.
- The Tigers could be interested in a host of Cubs players that the team may or may not be shopping.
Odds & Sods
Unfortunately, Will Laws of Sports Illustrated doesn’t list potential returns for Bryant, though he does mention the Cardinals as a possible landing spot. That might be hell for the third baseman, especially if St. Louis finds a way to keep Yadier Molina.
— SI MLB (@si_mlb) December 1, 2020
The circumstances surrounding the shortened season and the ensuing financial fallout could prompt an unusual increase in pre-tender deals.
The article is from mid-September, but there is a compelling argument for expanding playoffs even if MLB does not expand from 30 to 32 teams.
May is coming off a 2020 season in which he struck out nearly 40% of the batters he faced and averaged 14.66 strikeouts per nine innings.
La Russa named his 2021 coaching staff yesterday afternoon. Former Cubs infielder Miguel Cairo will be his bench coach, and Shelley Duncan, who is the son of longtime La Russa pitching coach Dave Duncan, has been named the team’s analytics coordinator.
Tommy Sandt, 69, who served the Portland Beavers as a player, coach and player-coach starting in 1979 and later moved on to coaching roles in the major leagues with the Pirates, Marlins and Rockies, died Monday in Lake Oswego, OR.
One more look at my favorite blast of the Theo Epstein era, just in case Schwarber is looking for a new home after today.
𝐎𝐜𝐭𝐨𝐛𝐞𝐫 𝟏𝟑, 𝟐𝟎𝟏𝟓
— This Day in Chicago Sports (@ChiSportsDay) October 13, 2019
They Said It
- “On the offensive side, I think we want to look and feel and perform differently than we have the last two years. The thing we’re trying to figure out is why we struggle offensively given the players we have, so yeah, I think the offense will look different next year. But that doesn’t take away from the goal, and the goal is always to make the playoffs and give this organization an opportunity to go deep into October.” – Jed Hoyer
- “I don’t know that anyone in the history of baseball has turned down as many jobs or job interviews as Jed Hoyer has over the last several years.” – Tom Ricketts
Wednesday Walk Up Song
Hello Goodbye by the Beatles – What does Hoyer have in store for his 12 arb-eligible players today, and sub-question, with less of an attachment to some of those players than Theo Epstein, how ruthless will he be?