It’s going to be a while before anyone signs any free agents, but that’s not going to stop me from talking about who the Cubs might sign when MLB’s lockout ends.
Among other things, the Cubs could use a lefthanded power bat. They really don’t have anyone fitting that description. Even if Frank Schwindel and Patrick Wisdom become solid MLB producers, they hit righthanded. So does Willson Contreras. Ian Happ is a switch-hitter, and I don’t think you’d call Jason Heyward a “power bat” at this stage of his career.
So that turned my attention to former Cubs Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber. Both do hit for power, and both could be especially attractive to Jed Hoyer & Co. if, as widely expected, the universal designated hitter is approved for 2022 and beyond.
After leaving the Cubs, Rizzo hit ... essentially as he did as a Cub in 2021.
With Cubs in 2021: .248/.346/.446 (80-for-323), 14 HR in 92 games
With Yankees in 2021: .249/.340/.428 (43-for-173), 8 HR in 49 games
As many have pointed out, Schwindel posted higher bWAR (1.8) in 56 games in 2021 than Rizzo did in 141 games (1.7).
So the question needs to be asked: Is this who Rizzo is now? Through 2019 he was about a 4 bWAR player. Is he now a 2 bWAR player? That’s useful... but perhaps not the “useful” the Cubs need. Rizzo is 32 and has a history of back problems. I was an advocate for signing him to an extension to finish his career with the Cubs because of what he’d meant to the team as the face of the franchise, but maybe that’s not as important anymore.
As for Schwarber, he had an historic home run barrage for the Nationals in June, got hurt and was actually traded to the Red Sox while still on the injured list. Then he put up slightly better numbers in Boston than he did in Washington:
With Nationals in 2021: .253/.340/.570 (67-for-265), 25 HR in 72 games
With Red Sox in 2021: .291/.435/.522 (39-for-134), 7 HR in 41 games
Overall: .266/.374/.554, 32 HR in just 113 games. It’s the way he was headed after his good 2019 season with the Cubs. I’d think Jed Hoyer would probably admit he made a mistake non-tendering Schwarber and signing Joc Pederson in his place.
Schwarber is also three years younger than Rizzo. You likely saw him play some first base in the postseason for Boston, and not very well. I would, however, think that if Schwarber had a full spring training to work on his first base defense that he could become at least competent there.
Given these facts I think I’d choose Schwarber between the two, given his age in particular. I’d think the Cubs could have him for three years and $60 million, which would not break the budget.
I haven’t mentioned up to now the fact that signing either of these players to return to the Cubs would be extremely popular with the fanbase. Obviously Hoyer & Co. wouldn’t do it fo that reason, but that would be a good ancillary benefit for the franchise.
The purpose of this exercise is to pick one of those two. Don’t cop out and say “Neither.” If you HAD to pick one, who would it be?
If you had to pick one of Anthony Rizzo or Kyle Schwarber to return to the Cubs, who would it be?
This poll is closed