Is there anything fishy about the Cubs staying in Arizona for spring training?

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We haven’t really covered this story, but the short version is this:  The Cubs have trained in Arizona for 50 years, but their facilities are getting long in the tooth and they need new digs. Naples, Florida stepped up with a very attractive proposal to lure the Cubs to the Grapefruit League. It appeared as though the Cubs were going to jump, but at the last minute Mesa, Arizona made some concessions and the Cubs will stay in some fancy new facility to be named later.

This could simply be the way these things happen. If you believe what some people are saying, however, it could all be a big conspiracy theory in which Bud Selig strongly urged the Rickettseseses to take the Arizona deal — which is still a pipe dream by the way, because it needs voter approval which like less than a sure thing — and in turn will position the Brewers to take advantage of whatever the folks in Florida are offering when it comes time for them to find a new spring training home.

I love a good Bud-is-evil story as much as the next guy, but this one sounds like it has way too many moving parts to satisfy even my low conspiracy theory acceptance threshold.  Still, there’s nothing more shady than a stadium deal, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the deals for spring training facilities are even more shady than they are for the big league parks. Fewer people watching, don’t you know.

Cubs won’t make Kyle Schwarber available in trade talks

Kyle Schwarber
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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.”