This could be an offseason of significant change for the Cubs, who may be looking to shake things up after a disappointing finish to the 2020 campaign. The Cubs earned their first NL Central title since 2017, but they succumbed to the upstart Marlins in a two-game sweep during the wild-card round. Now, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein could be looking to reinvent the Cubs’ roster. As Buster Olney of ESPN reported over the weekend, the Cubs are willing “to move almost any veteran.”
It seems more likely that any major subtractions will come from the Cubs’ lineup, not their pitching staff, which features 2020 Cy Young contender Yu Darvish and the bargain-priced Kyle Hendricks. It looks even less probable that reliever Craig Kimbrel, who’s owed a guaranteed $17MM through next season, will end up in a trade.
On the offensive side, it’s realistic to think that any of catcher Willson Contreras, shortstop Javier Baez, third baseman/outfielder Kris Bryant or left fielder Kyle Schwarber could be on the move. All of those players have been staples for the Cubs for years, but their days could be numbered if the team’s looking to cut payroll and tinker with its lineup.
The 28-year-old Contreras is coming off his fifth straight productive campaign and, as someone who should make between $5MM and $7.4MM in his second-last season of arbitration, would have value in a trade. Baez was a star middle infielder from 2018-19, but the 27-year-old’s production cratered this past season, and he’ll earn around $11MM in his final trip through arbitration. The 28-year-old Bryant, like Baez, went through a surprisingly difficult 2020. A former NL MVP, Bryant may even be a non-tender candidate, as he’s slated to earn approximately $19MM in his last year of arbitration control. Schwarber, who’s due anywhere from $7MM to $9.3MM, could also be a high-profile non-tender in the wake of a poor season.
Ideally for the Cubs, they’ll be able to find takers for any of these players if they actually are considering moving on from them. Whether it’s via trade or non-tender, though, which player from the Contereras-Baez-Bryant-Schwarber group do you think the Cubs are most likely to get rid of this offseason?
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