“I think he’d rather be playing in Beirut than Queens.”
– Peter Gammons describes his impression of Jason Bay’s interest, or lack thereof, in signing with the Mets, during an appearance on WEEI in Boston.
Ouch. Reading various Mets’ blogs over the course of the past few days tells me
that at this point the team’s fans are just as disinterested in having Bay as
he is in playing in Citi Field. Call me cynical, but I feel the team’s
interest in Bay had more to do with a hesitancy to get involved in
protracted negotiations with Matt Holliday — the far superior
all-around player — than anything else.
Granted, Bay would provide the Mets with a short-term boost
offensively, but given his age and particular skillset, he’s simply not
worth adding an extra year. A five or six-year contractual commitment
to an all-hit, no field-player in a pitcher’s park would ignore the
real deficiencies of the team. It didn’t make sense upon the team’s
initial interest and it makes even less sense now.
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.”