It looks like the Cubs will try and trade Kris Bryant, while Kyle Schwarber is free to find employment elsewhere.
Bryant is a primary trade chip for new general manager Jed Hoyer, with the likes of the Phillies and even Atlanta Braves as potential suitors. With one year left on his deal, the time is now to trade Bryant, and the Cubs would rather not give him up for free. By tendering him a contract, the Cubs are now committed to Bryant for one more year unless they deal him elsewhere.
Schwarber, meanwhile, is expected to be non-tendered. It’s expected that he’d earn upwards to $8 million in arbitration, and the Cubs don’t feel he’s worth that asking price. Albert Almora, Jr. was also non-tendered.
Did the Cubs make the right decision on Bryant and Schwarber?
Bryant is far from the MVP talent he once was thanks to injury, but there’s always the potential he could round back into form. His 2020 season was abysmal as he hit just over the Mendoza line, but he made the NL All-Star team in 2019, hitting .282 with 31 home runs and 77 RBIs.
Schwarber, meanwhile, is still a power threat. But he’s always been a liability defensively, making him a prime target as a designated hitter in the American League. That’s where most of the interest in him will be, but it also limited any trades the Cubs tried to make involving him.
In the end, this marks the first step in a retooling of sorts for the Cubs. Gone are the days of the 2016 World Series core, while Chicago picks which of their stars they want to build around long-term. The question remains, though: What does this mean for Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez?