When the Nationals entered this offseason, one of the biggest holes in their roster was a starting vacancy in the outfield. On Saturday, they reached a one-year agreement with Kyle Schwarber worth $10 million pending a physical, a source confirmed to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand. The club has not confirmed the
When the Nationals entered this offseason, one of the biggest holes in their roster was a starting vacancy in the outfield. On Saturday, they reached a one-year agreement with Kyle Schwarber worth $10 million pending a physical, a source confirmed to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand. The club has not confirmed the deal.
Schwarber adds power around Juan Soto in the lineup, which the Nationals have now addressed twice this offseason. They added first baseman Josh Bell via trade in late December.
“Our plans going forward are to get the best bat we can,” general manager Mike Rizzo said last month. “The perfect fit would be at first base or one of the corner outfielders.”
Schwarber was non-tendered by the Cubs this offseason after six seasons with the club. In 2020, his age-27 season, he hit 11 home runs in 59 games, but he batted just .188. Schwarber will look to return to his ’19 form; that season, he slashed .250/.339/.531 with an .871 OPS and a team-high 38 homers.
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With National League teams working under the assumption that there will not be a universal designated hitter in 2021, Schwarber would defend at his normal position of left field. He has played 461 of his 551 career games there, where he has a cumulative fielding percentage of .981. Schwarber has minus-29 outs above average in left field since ’17, the second-fewest at the position behind only Matt Kemp (minus-32).
So what does that mean for Soto, who was a Gold Glove finalist in left field in 2019? He provides the Nats roster with flexibility, thanks to his defensive versatility. Though Soto had become the everyday left fielder, he began his Minor League career in right, and manager Dave Martinez gave him a look there for the final six games last season.
“[Soto] feels comfortable over there [in right field],” Martinez said last month. “I had conversations with him after we did that. He likes it, he loves it over there, he wants to stay there. I feel comfortable leaving him there. But he said he’s willing to do anything to help this team win. If we got another outfielder that played right field, he’d go back to left field. He’s open to do whatever we need him to do.”
The Nats had a hole in their starting outfield after they declined their team option on Adam Eaton, who signed with the White Sox.