Will the Red Sox make a splash before Opening Day? As part of our “free agency fits” series, we’re examining whether several top players remaining on the open market make sense (or don’t make sense) as Boston builds its roster for the 2022 Major League Baseball season.
Kyle Schwarber was a pleasant surprise upon joining the Boston Red Sox from the Washington Nationals at the MLB trade deadline. In his seventh MLB season, he earned his first All-Star selection, even though he lost some time to a hamstring injury that postponed his debut in Boston.
After a successful few months — both on an individual and team basis — Schwarber declined his $11.5 million option and decided to test free agency instead of return to Boston. He did say in October he would be open to a return, but with what the Red Sox have accomplished in the offseason so far, does it really make sense to bring Schwarber back?
Let’s take a look.
Position: Left fielder (or first baseman, if you ask the Red Sox)
Age: 28 (March 5, 1993)
Weight: 229 pounds
113 games (471 plate appearances)
32 HR, 71 RBIs, 1 SB
3.2 bWAR, 3.1 fWAR
664 games (2,579 plate appearances)
153 HR, 350 RBIs, 12 SB
9.0 bWAR, 12.5 fWAR
Why Schwarber makes sense for the Red Sox
Schwarber fit in just fine in Boston, becoming a fan favorite both for his personality and his on-field ability. In addition to packing a punch at the plate once he recovered from his hamstring injury, Schwarber showed a willingness to fit in wherever the Red Sox needed him defensively, even as they tried to mold the lifelong outfielder into a first baseman.
Really, he was everything you could ask for in a trade deadline pickup, even though it was a move that puzzled many when it was announced last summer.
Why Schwarber doesn’t make sense for the Red Sox
At this point, there just isn’t a logical place for Schwarber — and his projected three-year, $39 million deal, per Spotrac — on Boston’s roster.
The Red Sox bolstered their outfield defense in what was a surprising, middle-of-the-night deal that sent Hunter Renfroe to the Milwaukee Brewers and brought Jackie Bradley Jr. back to Boston. That could remove a need for an additional player in the outfield — the area Schwarber typically occupies.
This would be a different story if J.D. Martinez had declined his option, but since he returns, there’s no room for Schwarber as the designated hitter, either.
As for his adopted position, if the Red Sox are going to spend any money on a first baseman, it would make a lot more sense to sign someone who actually has the background. Freddie Freeman and Anthony Rizzo are among the top-tier free agents and thus are a fit in every way except financially, but there are others available who have proven themselves at the plate and on the bag.
Perhaps a reunion with Mitch Moreland, who is a free agent, is in the cards?
Verdict: Not a fit.
Prediction: Schwarber signs with the Colorado Rockies