The defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs made a noteworthy move today, sending C/OF Kyle Schwarber to the minor leagues, as first reported by David Kaplan of CSN Chicago. The expectation amongst the organization is that it will not be a lengthy assignment, but it still comes as a surprise to many around baseball.
Schwarber, 24, was tremendous during his rookie season in 2015 and was expected to have a big 2016 season as well before going down with an injury and losing the entire regular season. He became somewhat of a folk hero when he returned in the postseason and joined the team for the World Series, never missing a beat, slashing .412/.500/.471 and helping the Cubs win the championship.
His 2017 season however, has not been good. Struggling for much of the season, the young superstar currently owns a .171/.295/.378 slash line in 64 games. He has also spent the majority of his time in left field, with Wilson Contreras getting the majority of the time behind the plate.
The move for the Cubs is designed to give Schwarber a chance to work out his swing and get his mindset right heading into the second half of the season. Schwarber spent very little time in the minors in his ascent to the majors and the move could pay dividends, giving him some time to develop further in a place with less pressure than the confines of Wrigley Field.
The Chicago Cubs are one of the few teams in baseball with enough quality depth to orchestrate such a move. The organization has several options to fill the void left by Schwarber for the time being. Ben Zobrist is set to come off the DL soon and another top prospect, Ian Happ, could get a look in left field. Happ has already hit 10 home runs, endearing him to Cubs fans, so the options are plentiful until Schwarber is ready to return.