With the exception of an incredible nine-game stretch in late July, the 2018 season was pretty much a nightmare for former Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop.
He spent nearly a month on the disabled list after suffering an oblique strain in mid-April and never gave himself a chance to follow up on his breakthrough 2017 season — except for that stretch that made him the American League Player of the Week at the end of July. He went 15-for-43 over those nine games (six of which figured in the weekly award) and had seven home runs and 15 RBIs.
Of course, that was before the trade to the Milwaukee Brewers that he described as “heartbreaking” in an interview with The Baltimore Sun two months ago.
Whether it was the emotional letdown or the two-day break between his final game as an Oriole and his first game as a Brewer, a different player showed up in Los Angeles to join his new team. He struggled badly from the start and produced an ugly .202/.246/.331 slash line during the final two months of the season.
It should have been an opportunity for Schoop to escape Baltimore during the Orioles’ historic collapse and perk up in a pennant race. Instead, he performed so badly that he barely got a chance to play in the postseason.
He appeared twice as a pinch hitter against the Colorado Rockies in the National League Division Series and went hitless in five at-bats in his only start of the NL Championship Series. Entering Friday night, he was 0-for-7 with three strikeouts during this year’s playoffs.
So, where does he go from here?
Schoop batted .293 with 32 home runs and 105 RBIs in 2017, which left everyone wondering last winter how much he would command in free agency if he could replicate that kind of performance for two more years. Obviously, he joined a number of his Orioles teammates who had frustrating years during the franchise’s most frustrating season in history.
He remains under the Brewers’ control through next season, but there’s no guarantee they tender him a contract considering what he might get in arbitration after making $8.5 million this year.
That possibility has even sparked speculation that the Orioles might be able to bring him back at a reasonable price if he were to become a free agent a year early.
The Orioles, who were not confident they could sign Schoop long-term before he reached free agency next year, dealt him to save about $12 million in 2018 and projected 2019 salary.
Whether the Orioles would want him back at a big discount is tough to say since they do not have a manager or general manager at the moment, but it’s probably not a likely possibility anyway.
Schoop, who turned 27 on Oct. 16, had 21 homers and 61 RBIs in 131 games this year. His 2108 numbers were abysmal in comparison to 2017, but those are historically solid run-production numbers for a decent second baseman.
If the Brewers don’t want keep him, they should be able to get a prospect from some team willing to gamble that the real Schoop took a sabbatical this season and will bounce back during his walk year.
Read more from columnist Peter Schmuck on his blog, "The Schmuck Stops Here," at baltimoresun.com/schmuckblog.
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