Some in the industry believe the Washington Nationals overpaid for Kyle Schwarber. The Nats are banking on him proving them wrong.
Kyle Schwarber signed a deal which will pay him a guaranteed $10M ($7 salary and $3M buyout on the mutual option for next year). Best case scenario is Schwarber produces enough the Nationals pick up their portion of the $11M option for the 2022 season.
With the economic outlook in baseball bleak as far as the number of top free agents signed and for the lack of total value in contracts handed out thus far, some believe the Nationals overpaid on Schwarber.
Similar pundits said the same thing when the Toronto Blue Jays opened the free agent signing period by inking Robbie Ray for $8M and the Atlanta Braves dished out $11M for Drew Smyly. Should the times dictate the market? If players are paid what they would constitute in non-pandemic times, should teams be criticized for not offering pennies on the dollar?
Adam Eaton had a poor season in 2020, one which ended in injury. What if he would have been healthy the entire year and hit around .260-.270 and the Nationals decided to bring him back? By picking up his option they would have been paying him $10.5M this season, slightly more than what Schwarber is getting.
Eaton gets on base at a better clip than Schwarber, but he doesn’t hit for power. In his four years with the Nationals, Eaton hit 26 home runs during the regular season. Schwarber hit 38 in 2019 alone. Schwarber had 70 extra-base hits that season. Eaton has never had more than 52 extra-base hits in a season.
Eaton and Schwarber play a different style of baseball, so maybe we are unfair to compare them to one another. Just like we believe it is unfair to say the Nationals overpaid Schwarber.
At this point with the moves the Nationals still plan to make, they will still fall under the luxury tax threshold. Could they have signed Schwarber for $3M less? No. Eight to ten teams were reportedly in on Schwarber. Is there another home run hitter on the market that could by had for between $7-$10M, on a one year contract?
Needing another power bat in the lineup, the Nationals are gambling on Schwarber to protect Juan Soto in the lineup and hit a bunch of home runs. Sometimes in this game a team needs to take a risk to get a reward. At $10M guaranteed, I think this is a justifiable risk for the Washington Nationals.