Schwarber, Bradley, Duvall among 59 cut in pandemic fallout

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FILE - In this Friday, March 15, 2019 file photo, Chicago Cubs' Kyle Schwarber bats during a spring training baseball game against the Chicago White Sox in Glendale, Ariz. Kyle Schwarber and Albert Almora Jr. became free agents Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020 when the Chicago Cubs declined to offer contracts to two key players from their historic 2016 World Series championship. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

NEW YORK – Kyle Schwarber and Albert Almora Jr. were cut loose by the Chicago Cubs after helping the team win its first World Series title in more than a century, among a record 59 players who became free agents as part of the fallout from the coranavirus pandemic when their teams declined to offer them 2021 contracts by Wednesday night’s deadline.

Cincinnati reliever Archie Bradley, Atlanta outfielder Adam Duvall, Colorado outfielder David Dahl and Minnesota outfielder Eddie Rosario also were let go by their clubs, who did not want to allow those players to become eligible for salary arbitration in February, which would have been their right had they been tendered contracts.

The total cut was one more than the previous high at the tender deadline, ahead of the 2004 season.

Schwarber earned $2,596,296 in prorated pay from his $7.01 million salary last season but hit .188 with 11 homers in 59 games, down from 38 homers, 92 RBIs and a .250 batting average in 155 games in 2019. Almora batted .167 in 28 games last season and earned $1,667,667 prorated from $4.5 million, down from a .236 average, 12 homers and 32 RBIs in 2019.

Schwarber returned from a serious knee injury and hit .412 with two RBIs in the 2016 World Series as the Cubs won their first championship since 1908. He served as the designated hitter for games in Cleveland.

Almora made a key play in Game 7, running for Schwarber in the 10th inning, advancing on Kris Bryant’s fly ball and scoring the go-ahead run on Ben Zobrist’s double in an 8-7 victory.

Just 137 players remained eligible to exchange salary arbitration numbers with their teams on Jan. 15, down from 155 on the eve of the deadline last January.

While the total number of players let go at the deadline was up only a bit from 56 last year, more high-quality players were set free by teams, many trying to cut expenses after a regular season that included a sharp revenue drop because no fans were allowed in stadiums due to health conditions.