Jason Kendall, who was expected to soon begin a rehab assignment in the minors, has instead suffered a major setback with his shoulder and will undergo another surgery.
Manager Ned Yost said the procedure would knock him for the rest of this year and perhaps all of next season, potentially ending Kendall’s career.
Kendall first hoped to return in April after undergoing surgery to repair his rotator cuff last September, but his shoulder never proved strong enough. He resumed hitting last month, and the hope was that he’d begin catching in the minors this month.
The 37-year-old Kendall probably won’t go down without a fight, so even if he is ruled out for next year, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him show up in camp with some club in 2013. However, if his shoulder is shot, then he’s not going to be of any use to a major league team. He hasn’t been a decent hitter in five years, and all of the leadership in the world won’t make him worth a roster spot if he’s not going to be a throw out a would-be basestealer now and again.
Kendall, once one of the game’s best catchers with Pirates, is a lifetime .288/.366/.378 hitter with 75 homers and 189 steals in 15 seasons. He ranks fifth all-time with 2,025 games caught.
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.”