I wrote yesterday about how Cubs president Theo Epstein refuses to say that manager Dale Sveum will definitely be back next season despite being under contract. So what does Sveum think of his uncertain job status?
When asked about Epstein’s various quotes leaving things up in the air, Sveum told Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune:
They have to evaluate, just like we have to evaluate our players and make a decision when the season is over on them as well. It’s the same thing. It’s the way the game is. … I’ve been happy with the way we’ve done things. Obviously some things haven’t gone too well, and some things have gone really well. I’m happy with my coaching staff, but that’s up to them. They’re the bosses and they make those decisions and evaluate.
I don’t have any hard-and-fast numbers to back this up, but generally speaking if the front office won’t say that a manager will definitely return the next season his odds of returning are pretty low. For whatever it’s worth first baseman Anthony Rizzo praised Sveum yesterday, saying: “I think Dale has done a really good job this year, especially with Starlin and me. We didn’t live up to what we’re supposed to do. That’s the game of baseball.”
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.”