UPDATE: ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that Frandsen will make a base salary of $850,000. The deal includes incentives which could bring the overall payout to $1.2 million.
11:35 PM: According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, the Phillies and Kevin Frandsen have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a new contract. Terms aren’t yet available, but it doesn’t figure to be much since he’s arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter.
Frandsen spent the entire first half of this season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley, but received significant playing time at third base with the big club after the All-Star break, batting .338/.383/.451 with two home runs, 14 RBI and an .834 OPS in 210 plate appearances. His strong play pushed Placido Polanco to the bench down the stretch.
It’s possible the Phillies will go into next season with a platoon of Frandsen and Freddy Galvis at third base, but general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. will certainly look for ways to improve in both the free agent and trade markets. While Frandsen was a nice surprise in a small sample this year thanks to a high line drive rate and batting average on balls in play, the 30-year-old had a .243/.302/.335 batting line and a .636 OPS over his previous 626 plate appearances in the majors. With regression likely on the way, it would be unwise to count on him as anything more than a utility infielder next year.
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.”