Jed Lowrie’s sprained right thumb prevented him from being on the Opening Day roster, but he could make his Astros’ debut later this week.
According to Brian McTaggart of MLB.com, Lowrie is expected to begin a minor league rehab assignment tomorrow with Triple-A Oklahoma City. He got the go-ahead after taking batting practice from both sides of the plate on Sunday. The current plan calls for him to play rehab games on Tuesday and Wednesday before coming off the disabled list for Friday’s series opener against the Marlins.
Lowrie is expected to serve as the Astros’ starting shortstop this season after coming over from the Red Sox in the Mark Melancon deal, but injuries have been a constant theme during his career. The 27-year-old has never played more than 88 games in a season.
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.”