Being a Braves fan was its most fun when a potentially-crazy billionaire owned them. We won’t get a second go-around of that, however, because Mark Cuban told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution yesterday that he has no interest in buying the team.
Now, the Braves aren’t for sale, but that doesn’t mean this is a wholly academic exercise. The team’s current owner — Liberty Media — may very well look to move the team soon because of the terms of the deal it made with Time-Warner when it bought the team four years ago, requiring that they keep the team until the current collective bargaining agreement expires, and that’s in a couple of weeks. There are some tax consequences to it all too. And given that the very purchase of the team seemed to be driven by some sort of corporate financial calculation rather than any animate feelings for baseball, it’s not like Liberty has any kind of real attachment to the Bravos.
But back to Cuban: he told Dave O’Brien of the AJC that he prefers “franchises that need a lot of help,” and that “the Braves have a great franchise.” And that means that he wouldn’t be interested if the team was put on the market.
Crap. Anyone know any other potentially-crazy billionaires? Miss you.
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.”