Ned Yost is taking spring training very seriously

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Pete Grathoff’s article in the Kansas City Star is mostly about how the Royals are giving infielders Chris Getz and Johnny Giavotella some reps in the outfield to increase their versatility, but buried within that is this little tidbit and quote from manager Ned Yost:

This was going to happen earlier, but the Royals were just playing too well. …

“It’s not an experiment, but we want guys to be versatile, and those guys, we think, can handle it,” Yost said before Thursday’s 12-2 loss to the Mariners. “I was waiting until we lost a game before I started experimenting a little bit, but what the hell, we’d better just go ahead and start doing it.”

He means a spring training game, just to be clear. As in, Yost didn’t want to start giving players action at new positions while the team was on a spring training winning streak in early March. Kansas City is an MLB-best 11-1 this spring, but based on how seriously they’re apparently taking Cactus League wins and losses Royals fans might be getting set up for disappointment once the games actually count.

If you’re curious, last year’s best spring training record belonged to the Blue Jays at 24-7 and they went 73-89 in the regular season. And two years ago the Royals–with Yost as their manager–had the best spring training winning percentage and they went 71-91.

Might as well do whatever you want in spring training games, because the wins and losses don’t really matter.

Cubs won’t make Kyle Schwarber available in trade talks

Kyle Schwarber
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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.”