SF Giants: Is Chicago Cubs Outfielder Kyle Schwarber a Fit?
By Jeff Young
The SF Giants will have a handful of holes to fill this offseason, and several non-tender candidates could meet those needs. How does the Chicago Cubs Kyle Schwarber fit the list?
In the days to come, we’ll be taking a look at several non-tender candidates who could be a fit for the SF Giants if they do, in fact, hit the open market.
First up, we need to identify the team’s areas of need this offseason.
In a perfect world, the front office would add the following to the roster before Opening Day arrives:
- Left-handed bat
- Starting pitching depth
- Veteran relievers
Kyle Schwarber is a potential non-tender candidate for the Chicago Cubs as his arbitration price is projected to sit between $7.1 – $9.3 million. Given this market, it’s hard to envision him receiving a tender.
Chicago Cubs Non-Tender Candidate: Kyle Schwarber
Need he fills: Left-handed bat
Before we get started, the SF Giants did add a left-handed bat on Tuesday by signing former Cubs prospect Jason Vosler. However, even though he signed a major-league contract, there’s no guarantee Vosler will make the big-league roster.
Now, let’s switch gears to focus on a current Cubs outfielder – Kyle Schwarber. After slashing .188/.308/.393 (93 OPS+) with 11 home runs, and 24 RBI while being worth -0.2 WAR in 2020, Schwarber is definitely a non-tender candidate this winter.
I think there is a bit of a gap between Schwarber’s actual value and his perceived value from the Cubs fan base. Ever since he reappeared in the 2016 World Series after sustaining a torn ACL earlier in the year to lead the Cubs to victory, the left-handed bat has been one of the more popular Cubs players in recent memory.
With that being said, Schwarber has been worth just 5.1 WAR across six major league seasons. Or to put it differently, his value on the field is on par with a substitute or reserve player. Paying him over $7 million is going to be difficult for any ownership group to do, especially considering the lost revenues from the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.
A Left-Handed Bat Remains a New for the SF Giants
Regardless, the 27-year-old hits from the left side, and that remains a need for the Giants even after signing Vosler to a major league contract.
Since he debuted back in 2015, Schwarber has demonstrated extreme platoon splits. He has posted a rough .650 OPS in 435 plate appearances against left-handed pitchers but generated a stout .859 OPS in 1,673 plate appearances against righties.
His numbers against right-handed pitching also include a 13.3 percent walk rate against a 26.5 percent strikeout rate, so he brings good plate discipline and patience to the platoon matchup.
This is the type of matchup the Giants intend to leverage as they search the free-agent market for a left-handed bat.
In the field, the former first-rounder came up as a catcher but has been primarily a left fielder since the start of 2016. He is not the most versatile player as he has just 14 innings of work in right field to go along with his work in left field.
The defensive metrics have mixed reviews on his glove as he has been worth -12 DRS in the outfield, but with 12.8 UZR. UZR captures a handful of defensive scores including arm strength, and Schwarber’s arm grades out very highly.
If he were to fit on the roster, he would have to show that he can handle right field. The Giants front office favors versatility, and it is tough for a player to carve out a role when he is one-dimensional.
With Mike Yastrzemski and Alex Dickerson are firmly entrenched as the Giants outfielders from the left side, there is still an opportunity for another left-handed bat to be added to the mix.
Admittedly, it would not be a perfect match, especially considering that Schwarber and Dickerson have very similar skill sets. However, there are not going to be many power bats on the free-agent market who can blast the ball like Schwarber:
He would be an imperfect fit for the Giants, but his track record is one that they could leverage. He would need to prove that he is capable of handling both corner outfield spots competently.
It is highly likely that the Cubs decide to non-tender their longtime outfielder Kyle Schwarber, and if he hits the open market, the SF Giants have to be intrigued with the kind of power he could bring to their lineup.