A horrifying turn in an already horrifying case: four people have been arrested in connection with the deaths of Luis Valbuena and Jose Castillo. They died after their car hit a large rock in the road, which caused them to be ejected from the vehicle. Authorities say that the rock was not in the road on accident. From the Los Angeles Times:
Authorities said the players may have been the intended victims of criminals in Venezuela who throw rocks onto roadways to disable cars or cause crashes and then rob the vehicles’ occupants. Four suspects found with Valbuena’s and Castillo’s personal belongings were arrested by police, state governor Julio León Heredia wrote on Twitter.
If this report is true, and the accident was caused by people trying to commit a robbery, this could be charged as felony murder. Or would be in the United States. Whether Venezuela’s legal system would handle it the same is unclear, but most countries do consider deaths caused in furtherance of a felony — especially when the means employed to carry out the felony are likely to cause serious injury or death — to be the most serious of crimes. It could be charged as a capital offense in the United States, subject to the death penalty where applicable. Venezuela does not have the death penalty, but it would nonetheless be among the more serious crimes that could be prosecuted.
Unconscionable. Simply horrible. It’s murder.
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.”