Red Sox Free Agent Target: 1B/OF Kyle Schwarber
Bringing back Kyle Schwarber should be Bloom’s No. 1 priority. The impact he had on the clubhouse after arriving at the trade deadline is undeniable, similar to when JD Martinez arrived in Boston before the 2018 season. Bobby Dalbec – who turned his season around during the final two months – credits Schwarber with being a key reason for his second-half improvement. Schwarber is an additional coach in the locker room, and he makes the guys who hit around him better.
And of course, Schwarber absolutely mashes baseballs. He has finished in the top 10% of the league in barrel percentage in four of the past five seasons, exit velocity in each of the past three seasons, and max exit velocity each of the past five seasons, per Baseball Savant. He’s hit 30+ home runs in three of the last four years (not counting the shortened 2020 season) and set career highs in several Statcast metrics during 2021 including wOBA, xSLG, HardHit%, and wRC+.
The defensive woes are an issue, but Schwarber showed glimpses down the stretch of being a serviceable first baseman for just one season. And with the universal DH becoming official in 2022, the possibility of a JD Martinez trade doubles, which means Schwarber could become the full-time Red Sox DH sooner than originally thought.
But let’s not forget that Schwarber has never actually DH’d regularly to this point in his career. If Bloom holds onto Martinez, and worst comes to worst at first base, Schwarber could find a home in left field for the year (or form a platoon with Martinez between LF and DH). After all, the Red Sox did win two World Series with Manny patrolling the Monster.
Why it makes sense:
Schwarber has proven that he can thrive in this city. Letting him leave because of imperfect defensive positioning for one season when he can be the DH for years to come is illogical, and Bloom would not have acquired him in the first place if that was the thought. While the universal DH will likely increase his price tag, the rule change was long suspected and came as no surprise for the 2022 season.
Before Commissioner Rob Manfred announced the change, MLB Trade Rumors predicted Schwarber’s next contract would be in the range of 4 years, $70 million. With everything Schwarber brings to the lineup and clubhouse, Bloom and the Red Sox would be wise to get this deal done as soon as they are allowed to.