The Washington Nationals have made another addition to their lineup in the form of slugger Kyle Schwarber. This is the second major move for Washington after they traded for Josh Bell late in 2020. Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post announced the deal early Saturday morning.
Source: The Nationals have signed Kyle Schwarber to a one-year deal pending a physical.
— Jesse Dougherty (@dougherty_jesse) January 9, 2021
Nationals Sign Kyle Schwarber
Schwarber did not have a particularly good year in 2020. The short season and bad luck were big factors in a career-worst slash line of .188/.308/.393 and 11 home runs in 224 plate appearances. The 27-year-old still maintained fine plate discipline, but his strikeout rate spiked to 29.5 percent and the power numbers dissipated. Both Schwarber’s isolated power and slugging percentage sank to new career-lows. Some of that is certainly due to a supremely unlucky .219 BABIP, so any sort of positive regression could put the power hitter back on track. A third of a season is no reason to sound the alarms on someone with Schwarber’s otherwise good offensive history.
The Chicago Cubs originally drafted Schwarber as a catcher in the first round of the 2014 Amateur Draft. They converted him to outfield shortly afterwards, but he’s still played some backstop since turning pro. He debuted in 2015 and hit .246/.355/.487 with 16 home runs in 273 plate appearances, demonstrating his outstanding power. He injured his knee early in 2016 but made a legendary comeback to jolt the Cubs in their World Series against the Cleveland Indians. He’s slashed .230/.336/.480 in his career with 121 home runs in 2108 plate appearances. The problem is that he’s no better than average on defense. His best defensive season came in 2018, when he was worth roughly three defensive runs saved. Schwarber’s defense has been worth negative value otherwise.
Where Schwarber Fits in Washington
Schwarber is another weapon in a solid Nationals lineup. His his strikeout rates probably push him towards the lower half of the lineup, but his bat is very dangerous at the same time. He gives Washington another deadly left-handed bat with Juan Soto. The addition of Schwarber also moves Soto from his traditional home in left to a new one in right, where he has 43 career innings.
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