Injuries struck the Cubs’ rotation as soon as they decided to cut bait on Carlos Silva, but today they added a little pitching depth by signing veteran left-hander Doug Davis to a minor-league contract.
Davis worked out for a bunch of teams a few weeks ago after being limited to just eight starts last season because of a heart problem and an elbow injury. Prior to that, however, the 35-year-old had a 4.12 ERA in 203 innings for the Diamondbacks in 2009 and he was a pretty consistent mid-rotation starter for most of the decade.
His control has always been shaky and Davis is no sure thing to still be effective at age 35, but as far as low-risk rotation depth goes he’s a nice flier to take. For now he’ll head to extended spring training and then likely report to Triple-A at some point.
UPDATE: Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that Davis can earn up to $2 million in salary and incentives if/when the Cubs call him up.
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.”