Dusty Baker still mulling contract extension offer from Reds

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It appears that manager Dusty Baker may be driving a hard bargain in his contract negotiations with the Reds. 

Baker is in the final year of a three-year contract that carries a $3.5 million annual salary.  He was offered what is believed to be a multi-year extension in mid-August but is taking his time accepting.  Probably because his Reds are just a couple days away from locking up their first playoff berth since 1995 and Baker can capitalize on that success.

“We’re talking,” Baker said before Sunday’s game in Cincinnati. “Negotiations don’t
just happen overnight sometimes, especially when you’re in a pennant
race.”

As noted by John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Reds went 74-88 in Baker’s first year, 78-84 in Baker’s second year, and are now 84-65 — seven games above the Cardinals in the National League Central.

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.”