(670 The Score) In a move that took some by surprise, the Cubs non-tendered starting left fielder Kyle Schwarber on Wednesday evening, making him a free agent for the first time in his career.
While the Cubs have left the door open for Schwarber to return on a deal that would pay him less annually than the $8 million or $9 million that he was expected to earn in arbitration, there’s a strong chance his time in Chicago is done. And that thought hit Cubs center fielder Ian Happ hard.
“That’s a really good friend of mine, somebody who I’m really close with,” Happ said on the Dan Bernstein Show on Thursday. “It’s always difficult to lose any teammate that you value. I had so much fun playing with Kyle the last four years. I had so much fun being in the outfield with him and Jason (Heyward) this year. You know, I lived with Kyle before the 2016 season right after I got drafted. He brought me in. I lived in his house in Florida with him, in his extra bedroom for a month before I was in the big leagues, right after I got drafted. So we’ve had a relationship for a long time. We’ve been friends for a long time. Him and his wife, I’m very close with. It’s difficult to lose a teammate like that. I texted him yesterday and told him I loved him and said I’m still very hopeful that I can play with him next year. I’m not giving up hope yet. But the business of baseball can be so brutal sometimes.”
While expressing sadness on a personal level, Happ is fully confident that the 27-year-old Schwarber will be fine as a professional no matter where he ends up.
“If he isn’t back with the Cubs, he’s going to hit 40 home runs somewhere else and he’s going to be just fine,” Happ said. “The guy mashes baseballs for a living. It’s what he does professionally. He’s very, very good at it. I’m not worried about his baseball. I’m just selfish inside (in wanting him back in Chicago).”
Schwarber struggled in the shortened 2020 season, hitting .188 with 11 homers, 24 RBIs and a .701 OPS in 59 games. He had a strong 2019 campaign, hitting .250 with 38 homers, 92 RBIs and an .871 OPS.