Blue Jays GM: decision coming soon on top prospect Brett Lawrie

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10:50 p.m. EDT update: Amid speculation that Lawrie could be called up to make his major league debut Friday, he was forced to leave Tuesday’s game with Triple-A Las Vegas after being hit on the hand by a pitch.

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With two months down, we’re nearing the point at which teams can call up their top prospects without having to worry about them becoming super-two arbitation eligible after 2013.  One everybody is watching is Brett Lawrie, and Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos said Tuesday that a decision on the 21-year-old can be expected soon.

Lawrie, who was switched from second base to third after the Blue Jays acquired him from the Brewers for Shaun Marcum over the winter, is hitting ..354/.413/.677 with 15 homers and 11 steals for Triple-A Las Vegas.  That’s an outstanding environment for offense, but he’s been even better on the road than at home, hitting .375/.436/.663.

Lawrie’s defense remains rough, though.  Or as Project Prospect’s Adam Foster told me last week:

I’ve seen Lawrie twice in person. His hands would be among the worst of any big
league infielder if he remains at third. The scout who caught him for me last week confirmed that his stiff hands, difficulty throwing and lack of focus on defense don’t project well for his future as an infielder.

The Jays, though, badly need some help at third base and may soon give him a try there anyway.  A switch to left field could come later down the road.

For more on Lawrie, go check out Project Prospect’s latest scouting report, which comes with a couple of video clips.

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.”