(670 The Score) The non-tender deadline Wednesday evening marked the breakup of the Cubs and outfielder Kyle Schwarber, but it doesn’t mean a reunion has been ruled out as Schwarber hits free agency for the first time in his career.
“It was a hard conversation with him,” president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer said. “We said that we’ll keep the door open. We have and will talk with (agent Casey Close) about ways to bring him back. I wanted to express that to him. I also said if that doesn’t work out, I wanted to express affection for all he has done here.”
Before the Cubs cut ties with him, Schwarber was set to be arbitration-eligible, a process in which he was projected to make $8 million or perhaps $9 million. That was a price the Cubs balked at as the organization has financial concerns about its revenue streams amid the COVID-19 pandemic that kept fans out of the stands in 2020. In addition to Schwarber, the Cubs also non-tendered outfielder Albert Almora Jr., their first-round pick in 2012. That move came as no surprise given that Almora has struggled offensively for a few years.
“I don’t think the door is closed,” Hoyer said of a reunion with Schwarber, which would come on a contract at a lesser annual value than he would've received in arbitration. “We had a good conversation about his legend, which is how it should be. We drafted and signed these guys and had meaningful relationships with them. That made the conversation that much harder.”
The Cubs have a desire to add hitters with better on-base percentage numbers and more ability to make contact, so that’s the type of player they’ll look for in left field if they can’t bring Schwarber back. Schwarber, 27, 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.
“I don’t think he was surprised,” Hoyer said of Schwarber being non-tendered. “It has been out there that this was a possibility. We had a running dialogue with his agent. He was certainly disappointed. Any competitor would be. It was a good conversation with disappointment on both sides."
The Cubs’ decision wasn’t based solely on the 60-game season of 2020, Hoyer said.
“This guy was a massive contributor in 2019,” Hoyer said. “We will probably have a different look and add different names. I don’t think saying subtracting Kyle Schwarber from your offense makes you better. That said, we have gone over our deficiency with this offensive group a lot. Everyone knows who they are, and it’s our job to address those things.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.