Here’s an idea: Barry Zito for Alfonso Soriano

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No, this isnt’ a rumor or even a rumbling. It’s the wholesale invention — and a creative one — by Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News: the Giants and the Cubs trade Barry Zito for Alfonso Soriano. The rationale: the Cubs pitching stinks and the Giants offense needs help, and since both guys are contractual millstones, why not?

Well, apart from the fact that (a) Zito wouldn’t help the Cubs’ pitching so much; and (b) Soriano wouldn’t help the Giants’ offense so much that it would be worth it to either general manager to simultaneously admit that they made such a giant mistake in those deals and to take such a big chance on a high profile deal which would only serve to underscore just how terrible those deals were in the first place.

And, yes, we all know how bad these deals were already, but there’s a difference between the public knowing something and the public being able to say “see, he admitted it!”  There’s a politics to this kind of thing, and neither Brian Sabean nor Jim Hendry are likely to want to mess with it too much.

So yes, it’s a fun idea to kick around. But it’s the kind of thing that would never happen, like, ever.

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.”