Franklin Gutierrez could play in some minor league games this week

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According to Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times, Franklin Gutierrez could play in a few minor league games before the end of the week. The Gold Glover is currently on the disabled list with a stomach issue that dates back to last season.

The Mariners are still awaiting the results of one final test before Gutierrez will be cleared for game activity, but he has regained some weight and kept up with baseball-related exercises in recent days.

While Gutierrez is making progress, Mariners manager Eric Wedge said that he won’t play more than a few innings at a time in the minor league games, at least initially.

“Just until he starts to get a few games under his belt,” Wedge said.

For what it’s worth, Baker speculates that his return is still at least a couple weeks away. The Mariners will continue to use Ryan Langerhans and Michael Saunders in center field for the time being.

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.”