Tigers downplay interest in Nelson Cruz

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Nelson Cruz is still looking for a home in free agency and the Tigers have surprised us with some late offseason additions before, so some have speculated that they could make sense as a possible match, but general manager Dave Dombrowski downplayed the possibility when asked by reporters at the team’s annual TigerFest today:

As of now, the Tigers are set to go with a platoon of Andy Dirks and Rajai Davis in left field this season. The Tigers traded Prince Fielder to the Rangers over the winter while Jhonny Peralta signed a deal with the Cardinals, so Miguel Cabrera is the only legitimate power threat in the lineup at the moment. Cruz could help change that, though he obviously comes with a ton of questions, ranging from how he’ll perform after his PED suspension to his age and poor defense. He would also cost a draft pick. It’s not hard to see why teams are hesitant to make a large investment.

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.”