Chicago Cubs: Is Kyle Schwarber still part of the future?

Chicago Cubs (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
Chicago Cubs (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) /

Kyle Schwarber was essential to winning a World Series for the Chicago Cubs in 2016 but is he still part of the future core?

The Chicago Cubs likely come up just short in the 2016 World Series without Kyle Schwarber. He was lost to a devastating knee injury after playing in just two games of the regular season but nobody expected what was to come next. While the big league club was on their way to winning 103 games, Schwarber was quietly working behind the scenes to be ready in case the team made it to the World Series.

He had a quick stint in the Arizona Fall League and the Cubs front office felt that was good enough to serve as a designated hitter in Cleveland, in the World Series. Schwarber had 20 plate appearances in the fall classic, slashing 0.412/0.500/0.471 with seven hits and three walks. He also had the key leadoff single in the top of the 10th inning of Game 7 that ultimately lead to the Cubs taking the lead.

Since then, Schwarber has batted just 0.224 in 2+ seasons as the full-time left fielder for the Cubs. He was sent down to Triple-A Iowa in 2017 to hit the reset button. The hope was that he would figure out some things but Schwarber has struck out in 28.7 percent of his plate appearances since the beginning of the 2017 season.

Schwarber did hit 30 bombs in 2017 and 26 in 2018, but he not been the hitter that the team hoped he would be when they drafted him 4th overall in the 2014 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft. He is hitting just 0.175 in May of this season and perhaps it’s time to move on from Kyle Schwarber.

Although balls are leaving his bat at an average exit velocity of 91.2 mph (highest since his rookie year in 2015), 41.5 percent of them are groundballs and is hitting into the shift a lot, 41 percent to be exact (via BaseballSavant).

Schwarber 2019
Schwarber 2019 /

Schwarber is under team control through the 2021 season, which coincides with the end of the current Major League Baseball Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). Many feel that Schwarber would better serve as a full-time designated hitter as his fielding skills in the outfield leave a lot to be desired. The next CBA figures to include a designated hitter for both the American and National League but he has not shown enough at the plate to be re-signed.

Unfortunately, he has does not have much trade value right now, at least for a National League club. I would not be shocked if the Cubs tried to shop Schwarber near the deadline to improve other areas on the team as they desperatlely need bullpen help. The void in left field could be filled with someone on the current big league roster or some combination of defensive positionings with a callup from Triple-A Iowa.

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Schwarber is a fan favorite and deservedly so, given his unbelievable performance in the 2016 World Series. But for the Cubs, it’s probably best to move on from him.