Kyle Schwarber might not move the Boston Red Sox to the head of class, but he certainly could push them in that direction.
ESPN’s Bradford Doolittle issued the Red Sox a B grade Friday for the trade, which sent the power-hitting outfielder from the Washington Nationals to Boston in exchange for right-handed pitcher Aldo Ramirez. Schwarber had been pounding the ball all season prior the hamstring injury he suffered earlier this month, and Doolittle believes the Red Sox offense will improve with his presence, while Red Sox manager Alex Cora reworks Boston’s defense to maintain its effectiveness.
“The important thing for Boston is Schwarber’s bat. Alex Cora has moved his defenders around liberally all season and now Schwarber will be part of that mix,” Doolittle wrote. “Maybe he gets some starts at first against righties, while (Bobby) Dalbec still goes against lefties. Maybe he plays some left on days when Alex Verdugo might have started, with Verdugo sliding over to right. Maybe Boston trades for Atlanta third base coach Ron Washington to teach Schwarber how to play first base.
“The point is, Boston’s lineup has been one player short all season. Now it’s not. And for those who love great side narratives, every remaining Yankees-Red Sox game left on the schedule will now feature Schwarber going up against longtime Cubs teammate Anthony Rizzo.”
Sure, Schwarber isn’t a first baseman, the Red Sox-Nationals trade looks like it wasn’t about filling a hole in the position. Instead, Boston apparently sought to add power to an already potent lineup, as Doolittle and other MLB observers reckon.
How Schwarber performs when he returns from the injured list will determine whether the trade’s initial grade was on point or wide of the mark. If it’s the former, the Red Sox just became a better team in the near term. If it’s the latter, few will blame Boston for trying to make a power move ahead of the stretch run and postseason.
For what it’s worth, Doolittle gave the Nationals a C+ for the deal.