Cubs claim Daniel Bard off waivers from Red Sox

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When the Red Sox designated Daniel Bard for assignment it seemed likely that a non-contending team with some 40-man roster space to spare would take a flier on the once-dominant reliever and sure enough the Cubs claimed him off waivers.

There’s no overstating how lost Bard has been for the past two seasons and this year he made just one appearance for the Red Sox while also walking 27 batters in 15 innings in the minors. On the other hand, he’s still just 28 years old and was an excellent setup man as recently as 2011, so the Cubs don’t have much to lose by picking him up for nothing and seeing if there’s any sign of a turnaround.

And of course it didn’t hurt that Cubs president Theo Epstein is plenty familiar with the good version of Bard from their time in Boston.

Kyle Schwarber is “probably, arguably” in The Best Shape of His Life

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Joe Maddon just held his annual media availability here at the Winter Meetings. During the scrum he said that Kyle Schwarber “looked great the other day” at a Cubs community event and that . . . wait for it . . . “he’s in, probably, arguably in the best shape of his life.” Maddon went on to say that, if Schwarber looks good in spring training, he might even be the Cubs leadoff hitter in 2018.

Schwarber is only 24, but the former catcher turned outfielder is going to spend most of his career as a DH, with another team obviously, unless he shows the Cubs that he can be a regular defender. The Cubs would love to see him in better shape whether they keep him or shop him, and if it’s the latter, they’ll want to show potential trade partners that he can play defense so as not to limit his market. It’s in everyone’s interests for him to be lean, mean and a bit more flexible once spring training starts.

To that end, according to a recent report, Schwarber “has been on a mission this offseason to transform his body.” And now Maddon is playing up the BSOHL angle. Whether that’s salesmanship or not, all eyes are going to be on Schwarber come February.