While Pittsburgh is sniffing around Rick Ankiel and Hank Blalock, they’re also thinking about Xavier Nady, according to Dejan Kovacevic:
An X-Man sequel?
The Pirates have made initial inquiries on free-agent outfielder
Xavier Nady, as well as reliever Ron Villone and shortstop Bobby
Crosby, though none of those inquiries is known to have moved past that
stage. In the cases of Nady and Villone, management likely will wait
until closer to spring training in search of the best value.
I love it: three useful guys — Ankiel, Blalock and Nady — fighting for two positions with the Pittsburgh Pirates of all teams, none of whom are likely to get more than a one-year make-good deal. As if you needed any more confirmation of yesterday’s thing about the middle class being squeezed.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Cubs won’t deal Kyle Schwarber this winter, despite multiple inquires from teams around the league. Schwarber is approaching his first year of arbitration and will remain under team control for another three seasons before reaching free agency in 2022.
The decision comes on the heels of one of the strongest seasons of the 25-year-old outfielder’s short career. Over 137 games and 510 PA for the Cubs, he proved a passable defender in left field and batted .238/.356/.467 with 26 home runs, an .823 OPS, and 3.2 fWAR in 2018. He also led the National League in intentional walks, with 20, and bumped up his total walks from 59 in 2017 to 78.
Despite his marked improvements from previous years, Schwarber’s performance still left something to be desired — specifically against left-handed pitchers, who held the slugger to a paltry .224/.352/.303 with four extra-base hits across 91 PA. Still, it’s evident the Cubs feel Schwarber is capable of strengthening his splits in the years to come, and they might stand to get more value from him on the field than they would in a trade this offseason.
Of course, that’s not to say the Cubs intend to pass the Winter Meetings in total silence, especially as they’ll be seeking bullpen and catching depth in advance of their 2019 run at the division title. As club president Theo Epstein remarked last week, “We’re certainly open and active in trade talks with a lot of deals that usually don’t come to fruition. So, we may make some trades. We could make big ones that transform the roster. We may make smaller complementary ones. But there’s certain things we’d like to accomplish.”