Look, we all know the popular topic of conversation both here and in the Cubs’ front office is the new Cubs manager, whoever it is. (I was in on Raul Ibanez, who today said he didn’t want to manage in 2020) But until the World Series ends, the Cubs have exclusive negotiating rights with outfielder Nick Castellanos.
Our Welsh correspondent earlier said that he thought the re-signing of the man who hit 58 doubles this season – making him someone who got to second base more in one season than I did in my first thirty years on this planet – should be on their to-do list.
If the National League had a designated hitter, I’d be all in on this. The man can mash. But his -12.6 dWAR and -5.2 UZR gets really ugly when you factor in the right field well in Wrigley Field.
Meanwhile, over in left is our large adult son. Kyle Schwarber has a less ugly -7.1 dWAR and -0.9 UZR. Schwarber’s defensive numbers dropped from 2018, largely due to a decrease in assists as the result of fewer runners being willing to test his arm. From an offensive standpoint, since they became teammates they were two sides of the same coin, posting similar numbers from opposite batter’s boxes.
This season they were bookends for poor Jason Heyward, who is an elite right fielder, but merely adequate in center. So having Castellanos in right means downgrades in two of the three outfield spots.
So the Cubs’ front office is left with (if you saw my snappy headline) a conundrum. Are you willing to take the runs he creates with his bat over the runs not being prevented in the outfield? Can you survive multiple seasons with what amounts to Kyle Schwarber in left and less-good Kyle Schwarber in right? Do you really think the 321/356/646 with a 150 wRC+ is sustainable?
So what it’s going to boil down to is dollars and cents. Castellanos is probably looking at something in the neighborhood of 4 years and $60 million. A nice neighborhood, but probably not near Wrigleyville. In the meantime, Schwarber has two years of arbitration left. Even if the Cubs decide to give him a multi-year extension (not outside the realm of possibility), he’s coming in at less than $15 million a year. Which is a lot more appealing to the Ricketts family as they continue turning their pockets inside out.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the guy. I hope he gets paid handsomely, and gets the proper amount of love from fans. I just don’t think it’s happening here. Or anywhere in the National League. Now let’s sit back and see how wrong I am…