Kyle Schwarber can really help the Nationals this season, but Washington made two crucial errors with his lucrative one-year contract.
The Nationals entered this offseason with a clear objective to provide Juan Soto with more protection in the middle of their batting order. Mission accomplished after trading for Josh Bell and signing Kyle Schwarber in free agency.
Washington is landing the former Cubs’ slugger with a one-year deal that will pay him $10 million in 2021. The Nationals are counting on Schwarber to bounce back from his uninspiring 2020 campaign. He struggled during his last season in Chicago to make enough contact to positively impact his team.
His .188 batting average in 191 at-bats convinced the Cubs that he wasn’t worth re-signing. The Nationals clearly believe they can expect him to produce more as he did during his 2019 campaign. He provided the Cubs a big lift with 38 home runs and 92 RBIs in his career-best campaign.
Add it all up and this looks like an ugly deal for the Nationals. $10 million is actually more than Schwarber could have earned from the Cubs had they tendered him a contract. It’s a serious misread of the COVID-19 depressed free agent market by the Washington front office. Spending a few extra million on Schwarber won’t severely restrict the Nationals’ movements for the rest of the offseason, but it might cost them a player that could provide them an extra win or two later in the offseason.
The real problem with this deal is that giving Schwarber a one-year deal gives the player too much upside. He’s walking into a great situation where he’ll be hitting in a loaded batting order alongside bell and Juan Soto. Enjoying such intense lineup protection could give Schwarber a chance to produce inflated offensive numbers that he can parlay into a lucrative long-term contract in free agency next year.
Nationals fans deserve to be excited about what Schwarber might be able to provide their favorite team this season, but this contract represents a failure by the team’s front office. Giving Schwarber too much money and a chance to hit the open market again next year makes this a bad deal for Washington.