Schwarber became a free agent after the Chicago Cubs opted not to tender the lefty slugger a contract a few weeks’ ago. A fit on a number of teams, Washington landed Schwarber on a one-year pact for just $10 million.
Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post was the first to report the news. Schwarber’s free agency comes to an end with the Nationals making one of their major offseason moves.
Signing Schwarber follows the Nats’ trade for Josh Bell. An offense which looked thin around Juan Soto and Trea Turner has been significantly bolstered by these two significant winter additions. The Nationals will be hoping the universal DH is agreed to for 2021 – Schwarber and Bell both fit best as offense-only players. Washington could face some difficult outfield decisions if Schwarber is forced to play left field.
Schwarber fills a need
Soto made the Nats the best team in baseball by left field production last season. They were among the worst teams in the league in outfield production from the other two positions. While Schwarber is a flawed player, his signing markedly improves an offense which already ranked 10th in MLB in runs scored and OPS in 2020.
There is no doubt that Schwarber is an elite power hitter. He ranked in the top 1% in MLB in hard hit rate in 2019. His exit velocity in 2020 was in the fifth percentile. It’s easy to focus on the swing and miss in his approach, but the 2016 World Series winner also possesses a great eye with a 13% walk rate for his career. The 27-year-old has hit 49 homers since the start of the 2019 campaign.
The Cubs exodus continues. Schwarber’s time in Chicago was over when they didn’t tender him a contract, and he follows Yu Darvish in joining a National League rival. It might not be long before Kris Bryant is traded. Chicago’s loss is Washington’s gain.
With so much money tied up in Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin, the Nationals are unlikely to hand big deals out to hitters. Signings like Schwarber are exactly what they should be doing as they aim to return to contention in 2021.