After ending the longest title drought in American sports with their Game 7 victory over the Cleveland Indians last season, the Chicago Cubs seemed poised for a long run of success. The Cubs no longer were the Lovable Losers- they were a budding dynasty, stacked with young, versatile hitters and a top-tier rotation able to go toe-to-toe with the rest of the league. Northsiders rejoiced, as a new era of Cubs’ baseball dominance seemed on the horizon.
Fast forward to this point in the season, and the Cubs are anything but dominant. They’re still below .500 and are in second place in an uncharacteristically weak NL Central. Their top hitters have been mired in slumps, the starters in the rotation haven’t come close to repeating last season’s success, and the bullpen has been less than stellar. Though this mediocre start is very disappointing, all hope is not lost- Chicago is only two games back of an overachieving Milwaukee Brewers team, and it’s not unreasonable to think the Cubs’ bats will come alive down the stretch at some point. If the Cubs can just squeak into the playoffs and catch fire at the right time, the defending champions will have the chance to win it all again. To get to the postseason, however, Chicago may need to be active before the trade deadline. Theo Epstein has never shied away from making a splash with a big move, and he might do so again if he thinks it’s necessary. One player that might be on the move is outfielder Kyle Schwarber.
The Schwarbomb has been a fan favorite in the Windy City since his debut, but he reached legend status after his clutch performance in the World Series- his first baseball action since tearing his ACL earlier that year. Schwarber has fantastic power and is still so young, at only 24 years old, but has below-average fielding skill. Though Schwarber has admirably tried to improve his outfield play, he’s still a defensive liability for the Cubs. With the recent emergence of Ian Happ (two grand slams in one game!), a multi-positional player cut from the same cloth as Ben Zobrist, Schwarber looks more expendable with every passing day. Schwarber profiles as a great DH in the AL, and teams will surely have an interest in the young slugger.
Though this wouldn’t be a popular move among fans, it may be the right one. Schwarber and his five hundred foot bombs into the upper deck are entertaining, sure, but the Cubs need to address their starting pitching. Schwarber’s lack of fielding ability makes him the most likely of Chicago’s young stars to be dealt, especially considering the deep pool of young hitters the Cubs have on their roster and in their farm system.
Most probable destination: Yankees. Epstein has already made a blockbuster move with the team, trading Starlin Castro and prospect Gleyber Torres for Aroldis Chapman last year, and the Yankees would love to have more power in the middle of their order to complement Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge. To get him, New York will have to give up some starting pitching, like Michael Pineda, Luis Severino, or even the struggling Masahiro Tanaka, and possibly some bullpen arms like Dellin Betances or Adam Warren. Still, the tantalizing possibility of a Sanchez-Schwarber-Judge lineup will be more than enough for the Yankees to consider this deal- Schwarber fits the American League DH mold perfectly and gives New York another young slugger to build around. On the other hand, the Cubs get their rotation squared away and improve their chances of a World Series repeat. It’s a win-win for both sides.
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