Here’s what the Red Sox would need to pay for Kyle Schwarber
According to the Miami Herald, the Marlins reached out to Schwarber and found his asking price is a three-year deal in the $60 million range. Miami appears hesitant to pay that much but they remain in contention.
The price is more reasonable for a team in a bigger market and the Red Sox have the financial resources to afford it, especially if they are willing to cross the luxury tax threshold next season – assuming there is still a tax once the new Collective Bargaining Agreement is in place.
The question is whether or not the Red Sox view Schwarber as the best option to allocate those resources toward. The relatively short commitment for a 28-year-old All-Star is appealing to a team that values future flexibility. Schwarber thrived during his brief tenure in Boston and certainly endeared himself to the fans and his teammates in the clubhouse. Both sides have been open about their interest in extending this relationship.
There are some drawbacks to committing a lucrative contract to Schwarber though. The Hunter Renfroe trade opened a corner outfield spot, which presumably makes it easier to fit Schwarber in the lineup. He would no longer be a square peg being crammed into a round hole. However, upgrading their defense should be a priority for the Red Sox and Schwarber isn’t exactly known for his glove.
Schwarber would primarily see time in left field if he returns to Boston since J.D. Martinez is currently clogging the designated hitter role. If the Red Sox move on from Martinez after next season, Schwarber could slide into the DH spot in 2023.
The $20 million average annual value might not seem steep compared to the staggering salaries other stars are earning in free agency this offseason. The top talents in this market provide more defensive value though. If Schwarber were viewed as a primary DH for the majority of his next contract, that price suddenly becomes less appealing.
Martinez is the only major league player who was signed with the intent to fill the DH role who is making north of $20 million. Giancarlo Stanton ($25 million AAV) wasn’t a DH when he signed his deal with the Marlins in 2015 and Miguel Cabrera ($31 million) was still a capable first baseman when he signed his extension in 2016.
MLB Trade Rumors predicted Schwarber would land a four-year, $70 million deal. The average annual value he’s seeking is notably higher but committing one fewer year would be a fair tradeoff. MLBTR probably wasn’t viewing Schwarber as a DH though considering they listed multiple National League teams as suitors and it’s unclear if the universal DH will be implemented. The Red Sox would presumably prefer to move Schwarber to DH once Martinez leaves, which reduces his value.
Overpaying a player for the role they are assigned doesn’t fit Chaim Bloom’s typical strategy. On the other hand, the Red Sox need the production Schwarber’s bat can provide, especially after trading Renfroe.
Schwarber hit .291 with a .957 OPS in 41 games with the Red Sox after they acquired him from the Washington Nationals at the trade deadline. In 113 games split between both teams, he smashed 32 home runs and drove in 71 RBI. His departure would leave a significant hole in the middle of the lineup.
Boston’s lineup is currently heavy on left-handed hitters after swapping Renfroe for Jackie Bradley Jr. That might lead the Red Sox to target a right-handed bat instead of the lefty Schwarber. Bradley Jr. cannot be an everyday player if he hits as poorly as he did during his one season in Milwaukee. Bringing JBJ back to Boston was part of the price to pay for acquiring prospects from the Brewers so I wouldn’t assume that any free-agent decisions are swayed by which side of the plate he swings from.
If the Red Sox do prefer a right-handed bat, Nick Castellanos and Kris Bryant are viable targets, although both will likely cost more than Schwarber. If they aren’t opposed to a lefty and want a more cost-effective option, NLCS MVP Eddie Rosario stands out as a potential option.
Bloom has plenty of options but Schwarber is arguably the best one based on his age, the short-term deal he’s seeking and his familiarity with this team. He might not be viewed as the best value at his reported asking price but the salary isn’t outrageous for a hitter of his caliber. If Bloom allows the fan-favorite Schwarber to sign with another team at this reasonable rate without replacing him with an acceptable alternative, it’s going to be a frustrating outcome for Red Sox Nation.