Olney: Kyle Schwarber May Not Be Untouchable
The Yankee brass has given every indication that selling may not happen. The team has spent much of the last two months chasing, then briefly attaining, and then ultimately losing a .500 record. Better judgement– and the eye test– would suggest that this team completely turning things around is not going to happen. Fans are intelligent enough to see the writing on the wall, and this type of season has been brewing since 2013.
With more than a month until the deadline, Brian Cashman says it’s still too early to declare this team sellers. But he hopes they identify themselves one way or another soon so that he can make the proper recommendation to ownership.
If these organizational discussions end in a decision to sell, the Yankees need to call the Cubs– or, more likely, field a call from Chicago– and find out if Kyle Schwarber can be had. ESPN’s Buster Olney says he thinks the Cubs would deal the injured slugger if the price was right:
"“But I wonder as we get closer to the trade deadline if they’ll start to look at it and say, ‘You know what, we love Kyle Schwarber, everything that he’s about, we love his makeup.’ But I gotta believe that one factor they gotta think about is what exactly is his role going to be on a team that has so many good young players and if in the end they may change their minds, [because] that happens.”"
On Tuesday’s episode of the Baseball Tonight Podcast, Olney suggests Andrew Miller could be the piece that ultimately sways Chicago’s thinking. The Yankees and Cubs have loosely been linked in trade rumors for the last few weeks and it’s no secret that Chicago is interested in bullpen help. Miller could be at, or near, the top of their wish list.
Despite his prodigious power, Schwarber is positionless. He was born to be a designated hitter. In his second game of the season, he tore both his ACL and LCL playing left field. He showed in last year’s playoffs that at best he is shaky in the outfield.
Originally drafted as a catcher, Schwarber caught only 21 games in the majors last year and most talent evaluators don’t believe he can stick behind the plate. He last appeared there on October 1. When you consider what scouts say about his abilities as a backstop, and the fact that he will miss essentially the entire 2016 season, he will have had a year-and-a-half layoff at the position. This could kill any chance he had at becoming a full-time catcher.
This is without mentioning how loaded the Cubs are positionally. The emergence of top prospects, outfielder Albert Almora and catcher Wilson Contreras— with more coming up the pipeline– could push Schwarber out of the Cubs’ future plans.
This tailor-made DH has a left-handed swing designed for Yankee Stadium. In his 69-game rookie campaign last year, Schwarber hit 16 homers in 232 at-bats. He has power to all fields. A look at his 2015 spray chart shows that seven of those home runs were hit to right or right-center. He went the other way almost equally; six more went over the walls in left or left-center. The Yankees are the most shifted-on team in the league, so this type of approach would bring a unique balance to their lineup.
At times this year the Yankees have been starved for offense. As of Wednesday night, they ranked 10th in RBI (272) and runs scored (287), 11th in homers (71) and 13th in OPS (.699) among American League clubs.
Obviously Schwarber would not be an option for these Yankees, but he certainly would be for 2017 and beyond. Schwarber will come with six seasons of team control. After the 2018 season, the Yankees are projected to have a miniscule payroll and no more than a handful of players on their roster. Schwarber is a brilliant fit for a club that will be in a state of flux for the next few years.
It’s easy to get caught up dreaming of Schwarber in pinstripes for the better part of the next decade. His skill set would play in New York, and Olney’s notion that he could be had for the right price should perk up Cashman’s ears. But that’s all dependent on the Yankees’ willingness to sell next month.