In the last 12 months or so, the Chicago Cubs have gotten rid of at least 10 major contributors.
Each and every one of those players would have made the 2022 Cubs better, but, at the same time, most of them were associated with prohibitive price tags, at least for what Chicago is trying to do.
All things considered, the Cubs will probably regret moving on from Schwarber the most, for a variety of reasons.
They Will Probably Miss Schwarber Long-Term
First, they got nothing in return for him: since he was non-tendered, all the Cubs got was some salary relief, and they are back spending about a year after that.
Second, the level of offensive excellence Schwarber can provide is actually better than all those players, even Bryant.
Phillies snd Marlins are among teams linked to Kyle Schwarber.
Some numbers to consider …
In 91 games in NL East parks, he has 32 home runs. That’s 57 HRs per 162 games.
He has 1.188 career OPS vs. Mets, 1.189 vs. Marlins.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 30, 2021
In 2021, Bryant hit .265/.353/.481 with 25 home runs and a 123 wRC+ (it means weighted Runs Created Plus, a metric to measure offensive performance in which the ‘average’ is considered 100).
Schwarber, meanwhile, slashed .266/.374/.554 with 32 bombs and a 145 wRC+.
Bryant may be the better ballplayer of the two, because he has a longer track record, many more accolades and awards, and is much, much better defensively.
However, Schwarber is younger (28, Bryant is almost 30) and will probably cost around half of what Bryant is projected to make in free agency.
At the time, the Cubs didn’t see it, but in terms of cost and production, retaining Schwarber would have been a good choice.
They were, however, scared about his performance in the 2020 pandemic season, in which he hit .188/.308/.393 with 11 home runs in 59 games.
He was below-average offensively that year (89 wRC+, or 11 percent below-par production), but with such a small sample size, perhaps the Cubs were reckless in moving on from him with nothing in return.
He Returned To His Dominant Form In 2021
The Washington Nationals took a chance on him and he was huge for them, with 25 home runs and a .253/.340/.570 line.
The rebuilding Nats then flipped him to the Boston Red Sox for a solid, top-10 organizational prospect: pitcher Aldo Ramirez, who dominated in the low minors and has a projectable arm.
Clearly, MLB franchises valued Schwarber enough to bring him in on a one-year deal, acquire him mid-season, and give up a valuable prospect for him.
Once he arrived in Boston, he was a true beast for the Red Sox while playing a new position: first base.
With the Sox, Schwarber hit .291/.435/.522 with seven home runs and 34 runs scored in 41 games.
He had a 161 wRC+ in Beantown, which translates to production 61 percent better than the average.
Now, Schwarber is a free agent and is looking for a multi-year deal, which he is likely to get given his huge performance with the bat.
My preference would be for Schwarber, but I think he's in a much better spot to get a multi-year deal, which I don't think the Cubs want to give out this offseason.
— x (@PleaseTalkToMe1) August 29, 2021
The 2022 Cubs would have looked a lot better with Schwarber in left field or, better yet, as the designated hitter if the universal DH rule is applied next season, which is not only possible, but likely.