Phillies sign Jason Marquis

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Veteran right-hander Jason Marquis has signed a minor-league contract with the Phillies as he comes back from Tommy John elbow surgery last July.

Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports that Marquis will head to extended spring training for now, but he could be an option for the Phillies’ rotation in the second half if his recovery continues to go smoothly.

Marquis has generally been a decent back-of-the-rotation starter except for a disastrous stint with the Twins two years ago and had thrown 211 innings with a 4.05 ERA in a season-and-a-half with the Padres at the time of the injury.

It’s a no-risk move for Philadelphia to add the 35-year-old Marquis for organizational depth amid concerns that Cliff Lee’s elbow injury could be more serious than initially believed.

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.”