The Cubs will sit down and talk about the plan for Kyle Schwarber moving forward. As of Thursday’s end of season press conference, Theo Epstein said Schwarber will continue to catch and play in the outfield.
“He [Kyle Schwarber] would continue to work as a catcher and probably get some playing time as a catcher and continue to develop and continue to learn but that he would also get a lot of at bats in the outfield with the emphasis on keeping his potent bat in the lineup.”
The Cubs are “not good enough” according to Epstein to forecast how his career is going to go and know exactly what position he is going to play.
“I think keeping all of the options open for as long as possible makes sense as long as we are not doing anything that gets in his way of his development, his ability to stay in the lineup and his long-term health.”
There will be more specific conversations about Schwarber and what positions he will play.
“As we sit here right now if you look forward to Spring Training next year you will see him getting work both behind the plate and in the outfield,” Epstein said.
At the Major League level, Schwarber batted .246/.355/.487 with six doubles, one triple and 16 home runs for a .842 OPS. Schwarber’s batting average continued to drop as the season wound down but he maintained a respectable on-base percentage. Schwarber exploded in the post-season and was 9-for-27 in nine games with five home runs and four walks (.333/.419/.889) for a 1.308 OPS. Defensively, Schwarber’s issues in the field were exposed on the national stage.
When asked if the Cubs current plan for Schwarber was an imperfect development path, Epstein agreed it is. Playing Schwarber in the outfield and catching is maybe not the best way to develop him defensively. But the Cubs see the need to have his bat in the lineup on a daily basis.
“When the alternative is sticking that kind of a bat in the minor leagues until he is Johnny Bench defensively, I like the imperfect path,” Epstein said.
“We love what this kid brings to the table. His personality, he’s already a huge part of our culture. That is a prolific middle of the order bat that we need at the big league level. There are ways to continue his development behind the plate. We have a wonderful catching instructor at the big league level. Mike Borzello will continue to be around. Tim Cossins, in Major League Spring Training as well.”
“When you have a young team, not just with Kyle, but with the rest of our guys. Teaching, learning, development doesn’t stop just because they are in the big leagues. He’s going to continue to get better and better with all the reps that he gets in Spring Training, during the season next year. Even ones that aren’t in games. He blocks balls a lot. He catches a lot of the bullpens,” Epstein said. “It usually takes catchers three, four years at least, at least, in the minor leagues before they are ready to start the process of becoming big league catchers.”
“And he’s just getting here really soon because of his bat and his character and everything else. That is something we embrace as an organization. Until we reach a point where we think it’s not the right path we are going to continue to expose him to both.”
Reports from Theo Epstein’s End of Season Press Conference
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- Theo Epstein’s End of Season Press Conference was Chock-Full of Information