For years Bud Selig’s presumed heir as commissioner was Rob Manfred. He handled CBA negotiations several times. Selig made him Chief Operating Officer last year. He was made A-Rod’s executioner. Seemed he was hand-picked.
But then we entered a somewhat extended period in which others were rumored to be of interest and some owners — particularly Jerry Reinsdorf of the White Sox — did not seem all that enamored of Bud picking his successor, more or less. Because, after all, the commissioner works for the owners.
Now, however, it seems like that uncertain period is over:
Maybe it was due diligence (i.e. you gotta talk to multiple candidates) maybe it was optics (i.e. the owners didn’t want to appear to roll over for Selig’s choice) or maybe Manfred really has all of the support he needs and has had it for some time. But it sure sounds like he’s the next man for the job.
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.”