Minor leaguers have an incentive to “smoke their way onto the 40-man roster”

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At least the ones with some promise do.

Jeff Passan has the story about the incentive structure in place for major league teams to take minor league prospects who get busted for marijuana and stash them on the 40-man roster. Why? If they’re on the 40-man they’re not subject to long suspensions for weed like they would be if they stayed on the regular minor league roster. If the player is in the team’s future plans, it’s way preferable to promote them and protect them early than it would be to risk them being idled for 50 or 100 games.

It’s an interesting story with some juicy anonymous quotes. And it’s evidence that, for all of the progress Major League Baseball has made in putting its drug policies in motion, it still has some work to do. I mean, it makes zero sense for pot to be treated so harshly in the minor leagues when it’s not considered that big a deal among major leaguers. And, increasingly, in society at large.

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.”