Carlos Rodon and Kyle Schwarber: Star-Crossed From The Beginning

Carlos Rodon and Kyle Schwarber have some interesting connections. Rodon was drafted third in the first round of the 2014 MLB draft by the Chicago White Sox. With the very next pick, the Chicago Cubs drafted Schwarber. Rodon, a left-handed pitcher out of North Carolina State, and Schwarber, a catcher out of Indiana, each came with lofty projections. Rodon was thought of as a top-of-the-rotation starter, while Schwarber was projected as a high-level left-handed bat with power. Seemingly, both Chicago teams had addressed areas of need, and the future was only getting brighter.

Carlos Rodon and Kyle Schwarber: Expectations Meet Reality

Fast forward six years to 2020. In the shortened season, Carlos Rodon, coming off Tommy John surgery, threw a total of 7 2/3 innings, and posted an ERA of 8.22. He is perhaps best known for blowing a lead late in a big game at Cleveland. Not what one might expect from a pitcher as highly regarded as Rodon once was.

Meanwhile Kyle Schwarber, after hitting 38 home runs with 92 RBIs in 2019, struggled mightily in 2020. He batted a disappointing .188, with 11 home runs and 24 RBIs. His OPS+ fell from 122 to 88, representing quite a fall from the glory of the Cubs’ World Series victory in 2016, when Schwarber was one of the heroes. Even with the dismal ending, he demonstrated class with his farewell to Cubs fans.

Carlos Rodon and Kyle Schwarber: The Plot Thickens

The timing for Carlos Rodon and Kyle Schwarber to have their worst seasons could not have been worse. Both were up for arbitration, for the final time before their free-agent year. Not to mention the obvious financial difficulties of all-around professional sports in 2020. Faced with uncertainty over the 2021 season, teams had to make some hard decisions. On December 2nd, Carlos Rodon and Kyle Schwarber, drafted one pick apart by teams in the same city, were non-tendered by their respective clubs. Two players with high hopes crashed and burned, with their futures in doubt.

Carlos Rodon and Kyle Schwarber: Future Prospects

What does the future hold for Carlos Rodon and Kyle Schwarber? Ironically, one idea that is making the rounds is that Schwarber might be a good fit for none other than the Chicago White Sox. After all, he is a left-handed hitter, something Sox fans desperately want to see on the South Side. He also is ideal for the DH spot, as the Sox have been lacking in that area for several years. So, on multiple levels, Kyle Schwarber would seem to be a very attractive option for the Sox.

Since he was non-tendered on Wednesday, Schwarber has been a major topic of discussion on both sides of town. Many Cubs fans are upset, while Sox fans have had more of a mixed reaction. The idea of a former Cub being a main piece of a White Sox championship is just a bridge too far for many South Side faithful. Many are still stung by the hiring of former Cubs’ announcer Len Kasper to take over the radio duties when the Sox move to ESPN 1000. Still, left-handed power hitters don’t grow on trees, and Kyle Schwarber merits at least a courtesy look from the Pale Hose.

Meanwhile, what is the market for Carlos Rodon? Unlike Kyle Schwarber, Rodon does not possess that one shining moment. There are no World Series heroics in Rodon’s career. It is nearly impossible to highlight any one season of his career. His career ERA is 4.14, with a WHIP of 1.379. He also has averaged 3.9 walks per nine innings. His strikeout to walk ratio of 2.27 does not exactly reflect ace type command. So, he would seem to have less appeal to potential suitors than Schwarber.

Yet, Carlos Rodon will be entering his age 28 season and is still a relatively young man. Additionally, he will be almost two years removed from Tommy John surgery on Opening Day, 2021. He is left-handed, and southpaws seem to stick around for a long time these days. If he can regain and harness any semblance of the stuff he once possessed, there is no reason that he cannot be an effective pitcher somewhere. That somewhere will definitely not be on the South Side. That train has left the station.

Carlos Rodon and Kyle Schwarber: Could They Stay In Chicago?

So, where will Carlos Rodon and Kyle Schwarber end up in 2021? Could the Cubs try to sign Schwarber for a reduced salary? This seems rather unlikely, given that the Cubs seem to be in the midst of an austerity campaign. Maybe Schwarber will end up winning a ring with the South Siders. As for Rodon, the options seem limited. His performance record will not inspire potential suitors. Yet, with the lack of left-handed pitching in MLB, Rodon will get a shot somewhere. His stuff is just too good to be totally ignored by 29 teams. Perhaps the Cubs will take a flyer on Rodon. He could be the next Jose Quintana, as the North Side to South Side shuffles continues.

For Carlos Rodon and Kyle Schwarber, the future is clouded. They are two high draft picks with high hopes, who have seen their fortunes in the Windy City wither away. In a slow free-agent market, they may be sitting for a while. Yet, each will no doubt get another shot somewhere. Where might that be?

Well, here is one scenario that would close the Cubs-Sox loop: Carlos Rodon and Kyle Schwarber drafted in consecutive picks on the same day in the same city. They both get non-tendered on the same day. Then, in one final stroke of irony, Kyle Schwarber signs with the Sox, while Carlos Rodon signs with the Cubs on the same day. Laugh at your own peril; stranger things have happened. Tony LaRussa, anyone?

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Main image credit: Embed from Getty Images

Mike Fisk
Mike Fisk is a lifelong baseball fan. For him, there is nothing like being at a baseball game, with the sights, the sounds, the smells. Writing about baseball is a bonus!

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