The Royals traded Melky Cabrera to the Giants during the offseason with the idea that Lorenzo Cain would be their starting center fielder moving forward. That trade obviously hasn’t worked out so well for the Royals, as Cabrera is hitting .364 this season and leads the majors in hits while Jonathan Sanchez has been terrible in eight starts.
Making matters worse, Cain landed on the disabled list in mid-April with a groin injury and then suffered a torn hip flexor muscle during a minor league rehab assignment. However, it appears he is finally making some progress.
Cain restarted his rehab assignment last night with Double-A Northwest Arkansas and went 1-for-3 with a single and a strikeout while playing five innings in center field. It was his first game action since April 24. The 26-year-old will likely need most of his 20-day rehab window given the lengthy absence, but he should be back with the Royals around the All-Star if all goes well.
Jarrod Dyson has filled in during Cain’s absence and is hitting just .263/.331/.306 over 183 plate appearances. If healthy, Cain should still get a long look as the team’s starting center fielder, but it’s worth noting that top prospect Wil Myers has started 18 games in center field this season with Triple-A Omaha. Still, most see the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Myers as a corner outfielder in the long-term, though he is blocked by Alex Gordon and Jeff Francoeur at the moment.
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.”