It has not been a fun few days in Arizona.
On Thursday night the last-place club cleaned house, firing both manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Josh Byrnes. Then, in an effort to pump new blood and excitement into the franchise, bench coach and 1988 World Series legend Kirk Gibson was named the Diamondbacks’ next manager.
Fast forward to Saturday night. The Diamondbacks committed a franchise-high six errors in a 14-1 loss to the division rival Dodgers and fell further out of contention in the National League West. Now 32-49, the underachieving D’Backs are 16 games out of first place.
It gets a tad worse. In the second inning Saturday, as clearly seen by this MLB.com video, Dodgers outfielder Xavier Paul drew a walk on only three balls against Arizona starter Rodrigo Lopez. Three balls. Not four. Three. That mistake triggered a six-run inning and the Gibson-led team was unable to overcome. When it rains, it pours.
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.”