Changes are likely coming for the Chicago Cubs this offseason, and the first dominoes fell on Wednesday as the team announced it had non-tendered four players, including outfielders Albert Almora Jr. and Kyle Schwarber.
The Cubs also announced that they had non-tendered infielder Jose Martinez and right-handed pitcher Ryan Tepera.
The decision means that the four players will be eligible to become unrestricted free agents, potentially spelling the end of the line for two of the key members of the 2016 World Series champion Cubs squad.
Schwarber, a first-round pick of the Cubs in the 2014 draft, made a miraculous comeback from a torn ACL to play in the 2016 World Series, batting .412 and driving in a pair of runs as the Cubs beat the Cleveland Indians and snapped their 108-year World Series title drought.
Schwarber slashed .188/.308/.393 in the shortened 2020 season, with 11 home runs in 224 plate appearances.
According to reports, the Cubs could still try to work out a deal with Schwarber, but it’s unclear whether other teams will try to swoop in and sign him to a contract before that can happen.
Almora, a 2012 first round pick of the Cubs, batted .167 in 34 plate appearances during the 2020 season. He is best known for tagging up and advancing to second base on a Kris Bryant fly ball during Game 7 of the 2016 World Series, and he ultimately scored the go-ahead run on Ben Zobrist’s RBI double in the 10th inning of that game.
The Cubs also announced that they had avoided salary arbitration with pitchers Colin Rea, Kyle Ryan and Dan Winkler. Terms of the deals were not disclosed by the team.
Five other arbitration-eligible players have been tendered 2021 contracts, with infielders Javier Baez and Bryant, outfielder Ian Happ and catchers Victor Caratini and Willson Contreras all receiving their tenders.
Those five players will still have to come to terms on agreements with the Cubs, as they can either sign their tender offers or they can negotiate a new deal. If no agreement is reached, then the players would enter into arbitration hearings with the Cubs.
With all of the moves Wednesday, the Cubs’ 40-man roster stands at 34 players.