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Earlier this week we wrote on how spring training (ST) provides card collectors with plenty of moments and stories to watch that can impact cards they want to buy or sell. Well, we are only a few days in and we have our first intriguing story line.
The report is that Cubs intend on giving Kyle Schwarber, who is recovering from a major knee injury catching work throughout ST. The plan is for him to work on his catching 1-2 times per week and prepare him to fill the role of the third catcher when the season begins.
One of the big question marks going into the season was if the Cubs would give up on playing Schwarber as a catcher. For one, there was concern that catching could aggravate his injury if he is not 100% recovered.
The Cubs also have a very capable catcher in Wilson Contreras so there is no need to push Schwarber into a difficult position.
While Schwarber will primarily play left field in 2017, it is exciting to hear that his catching days are not over. His bat is good enough to add value at any position he plays, but a stud offensive catcher is very rare, and thus quite desirable for collectors.
The reason for this is that the replacement pool of catchers (and even the average starting catcher) is so weak that if a player can put up elite numbers at the position, they should be able to finish with solid offensive WAR rating. It’s the formula that made Mike Piazza a HOF player, despite his defensive struggles.
But expectations need to be tempered. The odds of Schwarber becoming an everyday catcher is quite low because the Cubs already have capable catcher in Contreras. Furthermore, the Cubs are rightfully concerned about the strain catching will put on his still recovering knee.
There are also questions if Schwarber can even defensively play the position everyday. Even in the most extreme case where the Cubs did not feel confident about his defense in either left field or behind the plate and decide to trade him while his value is high, the belief is that he will be traded to an AL team where he can become a DH.
With this said, if you have any Kyle Schwarber cards, or interested in buying any, this is a story worth following closely. If the reports about his catching progress are really positive, you can bet that Schwarber’s card values will trend upwards.