Former Cubs OF Kyle Schwarber declines option, becomes free agent

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Schwarber joins star-studded list of ex-Cubs in free agency originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Which big-name and notable ex-Cubs are free agents this offseason?

All of them, or at least it seems that way.

Because if you look at the list of players who hit the open market this week, you could almost put together an entire roster of former Cubs.

OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration. But it doesn’t take away from the fact there’s over a dozen former Cubs who are free agents this winter — many of whom played for the North Siders at some point the last two seasons.

Kyle Schwarber joined that group on Friday after he turned down his mutual option with the Red Sox for 2022. 

The Cubs non-tendered Schwarber last December in a cost-cutting move following the pandemic-shortened 60-game 2020 season. He signed with the Nationals and turned in a career year between Washington and Boston, making his first All-Star team.

Schwarber hit .266/.374/.554 with 32 home runs and 71 RBIs in 113 games this season, spending the final two months with Boston after being traded at the deadline.

He’s positioned himself to earn a multi-year deal this time around, and the universal DH likely coming in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement only seemingly adds to his value.

RELATED: Playoff-minded Schwarber: Non-tender ‘better’ for career

Like Schwarber, Joc Pederson (Braves) and Andrew Chafin (A’s) declined their mutual options and became free agents this week. They were the first two players the Cubs dealt in their July selloff.

Trades of Ryan Tepera, Anthony Rizzo, Javy Báez and Kris Bryant followed, and they became free agents this week. So did Jon Lester, another big piece to the Cubs’ turnaround and 2016 championship.

Lester was a free agent last winter after the Cubs declined his 2021 option. He signed with Washington a few weeks after Schwarber and was traded to the Cardinals at the deadline.

Whether Lester pitches in 2022 is uncertain. He was non-committal when asked this summer.

Schwarber isn't the only ex-Cubs outfielder who had a career year in 2021; Nick Castellanos will likely receive MVP votes. He opted out of the final two years of the contract he signed with the Reds two winters ago — following his torrid second half on the North Side.

Speaking of MVPs, Jorge Soler just took home the honor in the World Series and (you guessed it) is a free agent. So is 2016 champ Dexter Fowler — who missed most of 2021 with a torn ACL.

If that doesn’t seem like a lot, Jesse Chavez, Wade Davis, Steve Cishek, Tyler Chatwood and Cole Hamels — all on recent Cubs playoff teams — are free agents.

RELATED: Now what? 7 questions facing Cubs as MLB offseason starts

All you need is Joe Maddon to figure out the rest of the positions.

Imagine what all these guys could do on the same team.

Never mind.

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