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2020 Chicago Cubs Non-Tender List

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Somewhat surprisingly, the Chicago Cubs non-tender list contains at least one questionably shocking name. The team has decided to non-tender left fielder/DH Kyle Schwarber. Not as much of a surprise was the Cubs’ decision to non-tender CF Albert Almora and OF Jose Martinez.

As I wrote last month, the Cubs were obviously going to be having a busy offseason, as regime changes and declining team performance began to necessitate change. Martinez was simply a rental, but Almora, and even more so, Schwarber, have been staples of the Cubs’ core for several years.

Why would the Chicago Cubs Non-Tender Schwarber?

Kyle Schwarber joined the team in 2014 when he was drafted in the first round (4th overall pick), out of Indiana University, Bloomington. A year later (June 26, 2015), Scwarber made his Major League debut.

After battling knee issues and a questionable set of fielding skills, Schwarber departed for knee surgery, only to return for the 2016 World Series. As his rehab and healing continued, his fielding skills became progressively better, and his bat often proved to be a savior.

It seems like almost everyone had a down year in 2020 (offensively speaking), and Schwarber was no different, slashing just .188/.308/.393, still his arbitration estimate was only $8M for 2021. With the possibility that the DH could be here to stay, cutting Schwarber loose seems to be a bit of a surprise. Even if the Cubs felt his fielding was questionable, the crack of his bat often left no doubt what his primary role on the team was.

The problem was, despite moments of sheer power, during his five-season career with the Cubs, Shwarber’s slash line was only .230/.336/.480, which was likely the predominant reason that the Chicago Cubs non-tender decision was made.

Chicago Cubs Non-Tender Albert Almora, Jr.

We can argue all day, but this decision was an unnecessary byproduct of Joe Maddon’s managerial skills. Almora has always had a very flashy glove, and could have (should have) earned himself a Gold Glove by this point in his career. Not to mention that his Cubs’ career numbers (.271/.309/.398) actually make Schwarber’s look even worse.

Joe Maddon always favored Ian Happ over Almora, and it was blatantly obvious, even when Happ’s offensive numbers were in the tank and his fielding was somewhat suspect. Granted, Happ has become the far more superior hitter, and his defense is greatly improved, but had Maddon not bastardized Almora, who knows what he could have become.

Almora’s projected arbitration salary for this year was a cheap $1.8M, somewhat surprising, considering he was drafted by the Cubs in 2012, though he failed to make his Major League debut until June 7, 2016 – almost a year after Schwarber made his debut.

Almora is controllable through the end of the 2022 season, and with Schwarber gone, he could have had a chance to regain his confidence at the plate, starting in left field for Chicago in 2021. He won’t get that chance though, as the decision was made to cut him loose.

Cubs’ outfielder, Ian Miller has been added to the 40-man roster. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him promoted this season, as the Cubs look to continue to trend toward younger, cheaper, and most importantly, controllable players.

As Jed Hoyer assumes the role that Theo Epstein left vacant, he’s being faced with several difficult choices. The least of which is this year’s Chicago Cubs non-tender list.

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Ken Allison is the senior of two MLB Department Heads, as well as a writer and editor for Overtime Heroics. A life-long MLB fan, he's also written for CubsHQ and had the opportunity to try out for the Chicago Cubs in 1986.