The Kyle Schwarber offseason circus gets even crazier, but Cubs continue to stand by their man

The Kyle Schwarber offseason circus gets even crazier, but Cubs continue to stand by their man

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The more time that passes, the less it seems likely the Cubs will trade away Kyle Schwarber.

(Feel free to bookmark this story and rub it in my face if a surprise deal gets done with Schwarber this winter.)

When America's Now-Not-So-Large Adult Son showed up to the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort Tuesday, it was easy to see how fans could run rampant with speculation that it may mean he's at the Winter Meetings for a physical or a meeting with another team or anything that could mean a trade is right around the corner.

Jed Hoyer waved that notion off in his meeting with the media in the Cubs suite Tuesday evening.

Schwarber did meet with Hoyer and Theo Epstein for about a half hour, though the Cubs GM joked the slugger's sudden emergence at baseball's hottest offseason gathering was probably more to show off his new chiseled physique.

"Oh, no question," Hoyer said. "There's been a lot of videos out there. He's proud of himself. He's not hiding. He's bummed it's not a little warmer."

Schwarber has kind of a mytical aura around him as a name that instantly engenders a reaction from fans regarding a variety of topics from his weight loss to him leading off to trade rumors to his 2017 struggles or his epic return from a devastating knee injury to play World Series hero.

His Midwest upbringing and blue-collar style resonates perfectly with much of the Chicago fanbase. He clearly also has some staunch supporters within the Cubs organization, from teammates to coaches to front office members to scouts.

To put it simply: The Cubs f--king love the dude.

"He knows how we feel about him," Hoyer said Tuesday.

Epstein admitted Monday there was a lot of interest in Schwarber this winter (his name keeps popping up in Red Sox rumors), though that's not out of the ordinary.

"He's always been somebody teams have interest in," Epstein said. "But we probably have the most interest."

These are just the latest in a long line of public endorsements from Cubs personnel on Schwarber.

The Cubs know Schwarber can handle the trade rumors, in part because this should be old hat for him. He's been linked to AL teams as a DH option for years.

It's also gotta help fuel the Schwarber fire within the Cubs that he's lost 25ish pounds, which will help improve his speed and defense.

"I feel like best shape of their lives becomes this cliche or joke," Hoyer said. "But he actually is. He looks awesome.

"I think Kyle in general is a guy that when you talk to him, he kinda motivates you. I mean, he's so passionate, takes everything so seriously. So Theo and I just sat down with him for like a half an hour and it's hard not to want to play right now listening to him.

"He didn't feel great about his [2017] season, he probably didn't feel great about how he felt all year and give him credit —- he did something about it. It's so obvious when you look at him what great shape he's in.

"I love the fact that he drove over here, in some ways, just to show it off. I don't blame him. I probably would, too."

Willson Contreras' bat-flip game is already in midseason form


Willson Contreras' bat-flip game is already in midseason form

The MLB regular season is still 13 days away, but Willson Contreras is ready for the swings to count.

The Cubs catcher hit an absolute bomb of a homer Friday afternoon off White Sox pitcher Reynaldo Lopez, but it wasn't just a homer.

Contreras put an exclamation mark on the dinger (his third of the spring and the second this week) with an A+ bat flip:

I'm not sure what's more majestic: The 450-foot shot or the 45-foot bat-flip.

Either way, Contreras is ready for those 2018 NL MVP votes.

Cubs opposition research: It's an even year, so count on a Giants comeback


Cubs opposition research: It's an even year, so count on a Giants comeback

The expectations couldn't be any higher for the 2018 Chicago Cubs. 

It's 2016 all over again. The goal isn't just a trip to the playoffs or another NL pennant. It's World Series or bust for this group of North Siders.

With that, let's take a look at all of the teams that could stand in the way of the Cubs getting back to the Fall Classic:

San Francisco Giants

2017 record: 64-98, last place in NL West

Offseason additions: Andrew McCutchen, Evan Longoria, Austin Jackson, Gregor Blanco, Tony Watson, Julian Fernandez

Offseason departures: Michael Morse, Matt Cain, Matt Moore, Denard Span, Kyle Crick, Christian Arroyo

X-factor: Brandon Belt

The trades for Longoria and McCutchen are going to get all the attention, but the Giants are sort of acquiring Belt, too. 

Their sweet-swining lefty first baseman only appeared in 104 games in 2017, missing the last few weeks of the season with a bad concussion. When he was on the field, he led the team in both homers (18) and walks (66) despite just 451 plate appearances. 

Belt has turned into one of the most patient hitters in the game and if he is able to stay healthy for a full season, would slot in perfectly in the 2-hole ahead of McCutchen, Longoria and Buster Posey. 

Projected lineup

1. Joe Panik - 2B
2. Brandon Belt - 1B
3. Andrew McCutchen - RF
4. Buster Posey - C
5. Evan Longoria - 3B
6. Hunter Pence - LF
7. Brandon Crawford - SS
8. Austin Jackson - CF

Projected rotation

1. Madison Bumgarner
2. Johnny Cueto
3. Jeff Samardzija
4. Ty Blach
5. Chris Stratton


The Giants tied for the worst record in Major League Baseball in 2017, surprising many around the league. Absolutely nothing went right for the team, from a lack of power on the field (Belt missed a third of the season and still led the team in homers), injuries (Bumgarner only made 17 starts) and general ineffectiveness (Mark Melancon).

But the Giants are a team that excels in even years, though the Cubs may have broken that juju by knocking San Fran out of the NLDS in 2016.

Still, between the return to health of key players and some big moves that improved the lineup, this team is primed for a return to form.

Watson is a nice piece at the back end of the bullpen and bet on a rebound from Melancon, who was one of the best late-inning relievers in the game from 2013-16 (1.80 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 147 saves).

Expect more out of the rotation with Bumgarner and Cueto a dynamic 1-2 punch. Cubs fans are familiar with what Samardzija can do if he gets on a role, too.

It seems crazy to pick the Giants to finish higher than the Diamondbacks, but they still have the same core of players from the championship years and have a much-improved roster.

Prediction: Second place in NL West, wild-card team

Complete opposition research

San Diego Padres
Colorado Rockies
Arizona Diamondbacks
San Franciso Giants