Kyle Schwarber was a perfectly imperfect fit for the Red Sox last season.
The same remains true ahead of the 2022 campaign, and Kevin Millar believes Boston should pursue a reunion with Schwarber in Major League Baseball free agency.
“I would love to see Kyle Schwarber with the Red Sox,” Millar told NESN.com last week when asked what moves the Red Sox should make before Opening Day. “I think he’s a perfect type of guy that has got great makeup for Boston. I think the fans started gravitating toward him. Even through his struggles when he went to first base, he was right there in the locker room. He’s a kid that can hit 40 home runs for you. He’s a great left-handed power source that you can’t teach. I would love to see him come back.”
The Red Sox acquired Schwarber from the Washington Nationals before the 2021 MLB trade deadline, a move that was somewhat surprising since there wasn’t a natural spot for him in Boston’s lineup. J.D. Martinez already served in a similar role for the Red Sox — splitting time between left field and designated hitter — and manager Alex Cora thus needed to be creative in deploying the sluggers.
Ultimately, everything worked out well for the Red Sox, despite Schwarber enduring some defensive struggles upon seeing extended work at first base for the time in his MLB career. Schwarber embraced Boston, and the city embraced him back. He slashed .291/.435/.522 with seven home runs and 18 RBIs in 41 regular season games (168 plate appearances) with the Red Sox and largely carried that momentum into the playoffs before Boston fell to the Houston Astros in the American League Championship Series.
The Red Sox have expressed interest in re-signing Schwarber, although the National League adopting the DH in 2022 could lead to a robust market that results in his departure. Either way, it’s clear the organization has a lot of respect for Schwarber, who at age 29 looks primed to be the middle-of-the-order threat he was for much of his Chicago Cubs tenure.
As for what other moves the Red Sox should make before the season begins? Millar, who will work alongside Dave O’Brien for select games in the NESN broadcast booth in 2022, pointed to the reliever market, where Boston since has done work by reportedly adding Jake Diekman and Matt Strahm.
“Obviously some arms in the bullpen,” Millar said last week. “The Red Sox were better than people thought last year. And you always can add arms, because a long season, injuries happen. We were very blessed in ’04. We didn’t miss a start. Bronson (Arroyo) and Tim Wakefield and Derek Lowe and Pedro (Martinez) and (Curt) Schilling made every start. So health’s a big factor. You gets Chris Sale back. Hopefully he can make 32 starts (and) Eovaldi (makes) 32 starts, and then you start adding these guys.
” … But it’s going to be a lot of moving parts on this roster. And once that establishes, then you kind of sit back and go, ‘OK, (these are our) strengths and weaknesses,’ and the season starts.”
The Red Sox will open their season April 7 against the New York Yankees in the Bronx.