All season long, the Boston Red Sox have shown the front office their own mistakes in roster construction.
But down in Philadelphia, Kyle Schwarber’s immense success in his first season with the Phillies is driving the point home just as hard. Literally.
On Thursday night, Schwarber blasted his 38th home run of the season, matching the career mark he set back in 2019.
When Schwarber set his career-high in 2019, it took him 154 games; this season, he only needed 137. And despite missing a few games in July and August, he’s led the NL in home runs for a while.
The Sox acquired Schwarber from the Washington Nationals at last summer’s trade deadline, and while he was only in Boston for a short time, he was a perfect fit almost immediately. He’s humble, enthusiastic, and loves to hit bombs; fans took to him like moths to a flame.
But when the offseason rolled around and Schwarber reached free agency, the Phillies immediately became favorites to sign him. They lured his favorite hitting coach, Kevin Long – whom Schwarber credited with revamping his swing – away from the Nationals. And while Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom claimed that they were in touch with Schwarber, it seems they never made much of an effort; according to a source high in their front office, the deal was almost done before the lockout began in December.
Should the Red Sox have signed Kyle Schwarber instead of Trevor Story?
The Phillies signed Schwarber to a four-year, $79M contract through 2025. His salary counts for $19.75M towards their luxury tax payroll, which they exceeded this year for the first time in franchise history. The Red Sox also exceeded the threshold this season; in signing Trevor Story to a six-year, $140M deal, they added $23.33M to their luxury tax allocations.
Perhaps the Sox should’ve made more of an effort to retain Schwarber instead of signing Story. Schwarber is a few months younger, has played solid defense for the Phillies this year, and even allowing for Story’s stint on the Injured List, the offensive production this year isn’t even comparable. And while Story only complicated the Xander Bogaerts situation, Schwarber would have been a welcome addition to the outfield options, especially since the Sox traded Hunter Renfroe to the Milwaukee Brewers to bring back Jackie Bradley Jr.
Ultimately, neither Schwarber nor Story could have saved the injury-ridden pitching staff, but 38 home runs would be a significant contribution; Rafael Devers leads the team with 26, and no other player has more than 16. The Sox are 22-24 in one-run games, for example; a SchwarBomb could have made the difference. Entering Thursday’s game, he’d hit nine home runs in tied games and 20 when the Phillies were within one run.
The Sox can’t turn back time, but they can learn from this mistake, starting with locking in Bogaerts and Rafael Devers.