As the national media keeps driving the speculation about Kyle Schwarber and the New York Yankees, Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer echoed Theo Epstein’s essentially untouchable comments. The president of baseball operations went out of his way on June 30 to tell reporters that he expects Schwarber to hit a big home run in a Cubs uniform early next season. It’s extremely difficult to see that fundamentally changing between now and the Aug. 1 trade deadline.
“No question,” Hoyer said before Tuesday’s 2-1 loss to the New York Mets at Wrigley Field. “That’s how we feel about it.”
The Cubs are still 19 games over .500, even with Schwarber only getting five plate appearances before shredding his left knee during an outfield collision in early April. As he recovers from the surgery that reconstructed his ACL and repaired his LCL, the Yankees have quietly pushed Schwarber’s name out there as they try to gauge the market and potentially start a bidding war for All-Star reliever Andrew Miller.
USA Today also floated the concept of the Yankees packaging Miller and 100-mph closer Aroldis Chapman – who’s positioned to become a free agent this winter – in a blockbuster deal for Schwarber.
“You guys know how we feel about Kyle, and he knows how we feel about him,” Hoyer said. “It’s a shame (with the injury). We’ve had a lot of guys play really well in his stead that have really helped. But, yeah, I think we all miss writing his name in the lineup every day and seeing that kind of left-handed power.
“We look forward to seeing that next year.”
As much as Epstein’s front office treats players like assets and tries to stay emotionally detached, the Cubs feel a personal connection with Schwarber, drafting him fourth overall out of Indiana University in 2014, believing in his ability to catch at the big-league level and seeing his potential as a dynamic clubhouse leader.
Plus, the Cubs built a first-place team and their future around young, offensive players like Schwarber, who hit 21 homers (including the playoffs) in less than 80 games last season, believing that pitching health is too unpredictable to long-term plan for and staffs can be patched together from one year to the next.
“This guy’s an elite middle-of-the-order bat with the kind of makeup we look for,” Hoyer said. “We kind of let that stand for itself.”