There was a general assumption, at the beginning of this offseason, that the Blue Jays would get involved at some point in the bidding for Prince Fielder.
But it hasn’t happened yet, and it’s not likely to.
According to FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi, Toronto is “not a serious suitor” for the 27-year-old first baseman, and his asking price would have to come “way down” for that to suddenly change.
Fielder has drawn only mild interest around the league this winter despite owning a shiny .929 career OPS and batting .299/.415/.566 with 38 home runs and 120 RBI across 692 plate appearances last season for Milwaukee.
The Nationals have emerged in recent weeks as a potential front-runner, and reportedly had a meeting with Fielder’s agent on Wednesday evening at the annual owner’s meetings in Phoenix, Arizona. But it has become quite apparent that the free agent slugger isn’t going to come close to an Albert Pujols-like deal.
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.”