Yesterday, Kyle Schwarber and Washington agreed to a one-year, $10 million contract. Schwarber’s base salary for 2021 is $7 million with a $3 million buyout. The deal includes an $11 million mutual option for 2022, though it’s more likely the Nationals decline that and pay Schwarber his buyout after the season. While this may be reasonably cheap, this forces the Nationals to go all in on pitching as Schwarber is a defensive liability.
Like Juan Soto, the defending National League batting champion, Schwarber is a left-handed addition to a lineup that sorely needs right-handed batters. Investing in Adam Duvall or Marcell Ozuna, right-handed sluggers who played for the Atlanta Braves last year, might have been a more prudent decision, as that would also keep them away from their division rival.
Schwarber was cut by Chicago in the wake of a terrible season (.188 batting average, .308 on-base percentage, and .393 slugging percentage). He had almost twice as many strikeouts (66) as hits (36), though 11 of them were home runs. He’s also a downgrade to Washington’s outfield defense.
As a Nats fan, I have called the Nationals losers in the Adam Eaton trade for Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, and Dane Dunning, but now I hate it even more as Shwarber is a downgrade from Adam Eaton.
Although the National League adopted the DH rule for the first time during the 60-game season of 2020, no decision has been reached on its status for 2021. The Nationals could have waited to see what pans out before signing Schwarber. The Nats had already added switch-hitting first baseman Josh Bell in a deal with Pittsburgh but, like Schwarber, he had a letdown at the plate last year.
Everyone remembers him as a hero in the 2016 Cubs World Championship. Most forget that he missed virtually all of the club’s 2016 World Championship season after tearing his ACL in the second game of the season. Reinstated for the World Series against Cleveland but relegated to DH duties because of his damaged knee, he hit .412, posted a .500 on-base percentage, and had seven hits and two runs batted in. That made him the first player to get his first hit of the season in the World Series. But maybe I’m missing something and Dave Martinez knows more with this reunification.
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