Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber and Javier Baez have been three of the most important Chicago Cubs since 2015.
Of this, there is no doubt.
But we now stand in an uncertain situation for the Cubs and baseball as a whole. Cubs revenues were down (as were everyone’s) in 2020 because there were no fans in the stands. We don’t know what the 2021 season will look like due to the pandemic. There have been strong hints that the Cubs will reduce payroll for 2021.
And so, we are in a situation where, instead of hearing of contract extensions for those three key players, we hear instead of rumors that one, two or all three will be traded.
At MLB.com, a panel of four MLB experts (Matt Meyers, Mike Petriello, David Adler and Sarah Langs) was convened to talk about these three and whether they’ll be traded or not. I commend you to read all of it, but I wanted to point out this paragraph in particular, from Petriello:
The Cubs are in a weird spot in a weird division, too. They can’t punt — mostly because they’re the Cubs, and the Cubs should never punt — but because who else frightens you there? Milwaukee can’t hit. St. Louis can’t either. Cincinnati can’t either. Pittsburgh is years away. There’s still a division title for the taking here.
This is all true. The Cubs won the NL Central comfortably in 2020, and as Petriello notes, all four other teams have deficiencies. This isn’t to say that the Cubs don’t have things they need to fix as well, but as noted, “the Cubs should never punt.” This is a good argument against a complete rebuild, and teams have rebuilt on the fly before.
The Cubs might have trouble doing that because there’s no immediate pipeline of talent in the system, ready to go, as there was in the 2014-15 time frame where Baez, Bryant and Schwarber made their big-league debuts. To get that sort of talent, it is probably necessary to trade one or more of these players.
I’ll let you read the article to see what those writers decided, but my feeling is this. If you told me I had to trade only one of those three, I’d make it Kyle Schwarber. Not that I don’t think Schwarber is a good player; he is. But Baez and Bryant have the sorts of skillsets that should rebound from the bad years they had in 2020. Schwarber, though, has what used to be called “old player skills,” which was usually taken to mean plate discipline and power. While those are useful, his defensive value — which isn’t zero — is likely to decline.
Schwarber might be a good fit for an American League team where he can DH some of the time. While I expect the universal DH going forward, we still don’t know if it’s going to be in use in 2021, and the uncertainty might mean he’s better off on an AL squad.
That’s how I feel about those three. You can read the article for the conclusions the panel came to, but I’d also like your thoughts.
Among Javier Baez, Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber, who should the Cubs trade this offseason?
This poll is closed
Baez and Bryant
Bryant and Schwarber
Baez and Schwarber
None of them