Washington Nationals: Free Agent Preview Kyle Schwarber
By Max Rayman
From now until the start of MLB free agency, we will be previewing free agents that the Nationals should target. Next up is old friend Kyle Schwarber.
Despite trading away what felt like the entire roster at the trade deadline, the National’s new-look offense produced at a high level. Since the trade deadline, the Nats offense led the NL in OBP (.348), and walk percentage (BB%) (11.1%), were third in batting average (.257), and were fourth in wRC+ (104).
While they excelled at getting on base, the team was dreadful when it came to delivering the big hit. Washington ranked fifth in OPS (.762), eighth in RBIs (252) ninth in SLG (.415), and 10th in homers (63). That’s where Kyle Schwarber comes in. Signed to a one-year deal worth $10 million with the Nats for 2021, the slugger began the season on the COVID list. Sidelined for over a week, Schwarber stumbled when he finally returned to the lineup and took a while to rediscover his swing.
But once the calendar turned to June, Schwarber morphed into the hottest hitter on the planet. Across 100 ABs in June, Schwarber hit .280, with a whopping 16 homers, 30 RBIs, and an OPS of 1.122. All 16 homers came during an 18 game stretch.
Sadly, Schwarber was sidelined for a month a half after he injured his hamstring running the bases against the Dodgers. His injury led to the Nationals falling into a tailspin and they eventually raised the white flag and shipped Schwarber to Boston.
Starting December 1, the current CBA ends, and a key conversation in the new CBA talks between the players and owners will be establishing a universal DH. If this comes to fruition, Schwarber will be a hot commodity on the free-agent market. Naturally, he would want to play for a contender and Boston would be unwise to let him walk.
But Schwarber checks off multiple boxes in what the Nats are looking for. He excelled at leading off for both the Nats and Boston (.297 BA, 17 homers, 30 RBIs,1.216 OPS when leading off), but would also provide plenty of protection for Juan Soto in the lineup.
Defensivley, if there is no universal DH, expect Schwarber to man leftfield again. Between Washington and Boston, he posted -5 DRS, with a -3.4 UZR, and four outfield assists in left.
Schwarber is only 29 and would help speed up the teams rebuild. With the team being built around Soto, the young star needs to be happy in order for him to sign want to stay long term. Reuniting him with the slugger would be a step in the right direction.