Could Johnny Damon still end up in Atlanta?

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Many assume that if the White Sox indeed pull their offer to Johnny Damon it pretty much means the “Tigers or bust,” but don’t forget that the Braves have already offered Damon a one-year contract with some deferred money — somewhere around $4 million or less.

After Friday’s developments, Braves general manager Frank Wren told Mark Bowman of MLB.com that “Nothing has changed on our end.” This doesn’t really mean anything to me, other than saying “our original offer still stands.”

Even though the Tigers are known to have offered at least a one-year, $7 million contract, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution still thinks there’s a “reasonable chance” Damon winds up with the Braves:

It’s seemed odd to me that the Braves’ interest in Damon was
practically dismissed by a couple of other media outlets in the last
week, Atlanta described as having only lackluster interest and not
making a serious push for him.

The team that made him an offer nearly two weeks ago, before Detroit or the Chicago White Sox made offers. The team that had Chipper Jones call
Damon the same day it made its offer, to emphasize to him how much the
Braves wanted him and how well he’d fit in their lineup and on their
team.

I think it’s pretty simple. Scott Boras wanted to dangle Damon in the AL Central for a while to see if he could create some sort of mini bidding war. It doesn’t seem to be working. This posturing has been fun and all (not really), but it’s high-time for Damon to step up and make his preference known, no matter the salary.

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.”