Wednesday, May 29, 2024
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Nats sign Kyle Schwarber to 1-year, $10M deal

I’d say the Washington Nationals have decided that their lacking position player group needed a bit more pop. After trading for Pirates’ 1B Josh Bell in late December, the D.C. team has made its 2nd major addition this offseason, signing former Cubs OF Kyle Schwarber to a 1-year contract worth $10 million.

Source: Twitter

The 27 year old lefty slugger is likely to occupy one of two corner outfield spots for the Nats, playing alongside Víctor Robles and Juan Soto in what could be a very productive group. The fit was clearly there for Washington, who had a severe lack of position player depth last year. Schwarber, who was one of some relatively well known names non-tendered just over a month ago, will now likely make more money than he would’ve in arbitration, so it can be considered a win for both sides. Let’s break down just what the Nats are getting in this deal.

What The Nats Are Getting

What you see is what you get with Kyle Schwarber, folks. He’s a three-true-outcomes slugger with 35+ HR pop. He walks, he strikes out, and he hits the ball hard and in the air, very much a modern 2020 hitter. While his 2020 was disappointing (.188/.308/.393 for a 90 wRC+ and just 0.4 fWAR in 59 games), it was likely influenced by an unlucky .219 BABIP that shouldn’t happen again, especially considering he still hit the ball extremely hard and all his expected stats were on the healthy side of things. A bounceback to his 2018-19 numbers (.245/.347/.503, 118 wRC+, 3-ish WAR over a full season) is very much in play when you take into account the underlying metrics, his track record, and his age as he’s only 27 years old. He hits some beautiful tanks, too. Here he is mashing one to left center against the Reds last season:

Source: Baseball Savant

That sight might be common in Nationals Park over this next summer. While Schwarber pulls the ball a lot, especially when he hits it on the ground, he has light tower power going the other way and is particularly good at handling changeups, rocking an xwOBA of .352 or higher against them in 3 of the past 4 seasons. In short, the man crushes the ball and can crush it to all fields. And before you wonder, yes, there is some level of platoon splits here, as Schwarber has a career wOBA of just .287 against lefties compared to a strong .358 against righties. He’s not as extreme as someone like Joc Pederson, but Dave Martínez would be smart to line up rest days for Schwarber when there happens to be a quality left handed hurler on the mound.

Source: Fangraphs

Of course, no discussion about Schwarber is complete without mentioning his defense. A former catcher, Schwarber is exclusively a corner OF/DH type, and he’s not exactly Mookie Betts out there. Some of the runs he’ll create with his bat will be given back to the opposition in the form of poor defense. He’s not unplayable in the field, mind you, but he won’t be a plus with the glove or on the basepaths for that matter. He’s a bat first player through and through, although the presence of Robles in center should mitigate Schwarber’s shortcomings.

I personally like this move for the Nats. One year contracts are basically never a bad thing, and Schwarber will be an above average regular in an OF corner if he stays healthy and rebounds, which is likely to happen in a more normal season. Along with Josh Bell, he will give Washington some desperately needed power production from the middle of the lineup. He could fit nicely in the three or four spot in the Nats’ batting order, as a slugger who will post solid OBP numbers. The Nats still have work to do, obviously. A fourth starter is still needed, along with more bullpen help and extra position player depth, but they’re on the right track.