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Today is MLB’s non-tender deadline. What will the Cubs and other teams do?

The Cubs have two fairly obvious non-tenders... but what about Kyle Schwarber and others?

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Will Kyle Schwarber be a Cub tomorrow?
Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

Teams must tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players by 7 p.m. CT today.

Thus this annual deadline has become known as the “non-tender deadline,” because not tendering deals to arb-eligible players can create another class of free agents.

I’m going to cite some things from Marc Carig and Andy McCullough’s article on this topic in The Athletic, but first I want to give props to this headline:

Now that is a first-class headline.

Anyway, the first thing notable from Carig and McCullough is this:

Given the state of the industry, it could be an exceptionally busy day. “There’s going to be a staggering amount of non-tenders,” said one official. Another indicated that he would not be surprised by a “bloodbath.”

I tend to agree with this. You might have noted a number of players signing deals over the last couple of days to avoid arbitration. Those players might have taken a bit less money than they otherwise might, not to avoid an arb hearing, but to avoid being non-tendered. Some examples:

You’ll note a team absent from that list — the Cubs — and a couple of arb-eligible players, Albert Almora Jr. and Jose Martinez, also still not signed for 2021. I think it’s pretty much a done deal that both those players will be non-tendered. There are a couple of other non-tender candidates on the Cubs roster, including Kyle Ryan and Dan Winkler.

The proverbial elephants in the room, of course, are Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber. Earlier this week we learned that the Cubs will tender KB a 2021 contract. About three weeks ago I examined the possibility that Schwarber will be non-tendered, noting three essential choices they might have:

Go to arbitration with Schwarber and offer him around $5.6 million, which would be the maximum cut allowed (20 percent) and hope the arbitrator sides with them

Non-tender Schwarber and offer him a two-year deal for around $11-12 million

Non-tender Schwarber, cut ties and let him become a free agent

Here’s what Carig and McCullough say about Schwarber and Bryant:

It wasn’t all that long ago when Theo Epstein was calling the shots and the Cubs were on the rise. They were so enamored with Kris Bryant that they gamed his service time to gain an extra year of control — even if it meant a grievance. They fast-tracked Kyle Schwarber, who played in the Fall Classic despite missing almost the entire season with a knee injury. The Cubs went on to win that World Series in 2016, and Bryant helped record the final out. But things change quickly. Epstein is gone and the Cubs are a franchise in transition. That means even Bryant and Schwarber can’t escape being fodder in the non-tender discussion. If the Cubs part ways with either player, it’s most likely going to come via a trade. But given the state of the Cubs and their finances, a non-tender can’t be ruled out when the salaries are significant.

As noted above, it’s a near-certainty the Cubs will hold on to Bryant for 2021, or at least until trading him becomes more useful to the team than keeping him.

But Schwarber? Unless there’s some sort of last-minute deal announced for him to avoid arbitration before 7 p.m. CT today, I think he’s gone.

Beyond that, there are some interesting names on the potential non-tender list from Carig and McCullough who the Cubs might look at, including Corey Knebel, Matt Barnes, Jon Gray and perhaps even Carlos Rodon.

Wouldn’t it be something if the White Sox non-tendered Rodon, whose career has been injury-wrecked, and the Cubs somehow rescued him from the scrap heap and unlocked that first-round talent? It should be noted that the Sox chose Rodon with the pick immediately before the Cubs took Schwarber in 2014. I’m not saying this will happen, or even should happen, only that it would be a nice boost for the Cubs if it did.

As always, we await developments.


Should the Cubs non-tender Kyle Schwarber?

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Will the Cubs non-tender Kyle Schwarber?

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  • 48%
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511 votes total Vote Now