The Philadelphia Phillies and Dave Dombrowski have finally made their big move of the offseason. The team reportedly agreed to terms with OF/DH Kyle Schwarber on a four year, $79M contract. NBCS Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury was first with the agreement.
Phillies have an agreement with Kyle Schwarber, pending all the usual stuff— Jim Salisbury (@JSalisburyNBCS) March 16, 2022
MLB Network’s John Heyman was first with the exact terms.
Kyle Schwarber Phillies deal is $79M, 4 years— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) March 16, 2022
Schwarber had a career year in 2021 thanks to the tutelage of then Nationals and now Phillies hitting coach Kevin Long. After being non-tendered by the Cubs in 2020, Schwarber rebounded to post career-highs in nearly every offensive category. The lefty slugger finished with a .926 OPS and 32 home runs in 113 games played with the Nationals and Red Sox. The 29-year-old took home N.L. Player of the Month honors in June thanks to a torrid stretch where he hit 16 home runs in an 18-game span with five multi-homer games.
The biggest knock against Schwarber however is his defense. Originally drafted by the Cubs as a catcher, Schwarber was quickly moved to left field not long after his debut. In 550 games playing the outfield, Schwarber has a career -13 defensive runs saved. He posted -6 DRS in 87 games in the outfield in 2021.
Fit with the Phillies
Schwarber’s bat gives the Phillies a few of the biggest things they need. He is selective at the plate despite his high strikeout numbers, he has legit power, he gets on base at a high clip, and he can bat leadoff. The Phillies struggled mightily from the leadoff position last year, posting the second worst OBP (.302) and fifth worst OPS (.706) in the Majors. Philadelphia struggled for most of 2021 at getting runners on base for N.L. MVP Bryce Harper, who finished with just 84 RBIs despite having a 1.033 OPS with runners in scoring position. Schwarber hit .297/.385/.832 with 17 home runs from the leadoff spot in 2021. Also, he will now be reunited with hitting coach Kevin Long whom he credits with helping revitalize his swing and approach in 2021.
However, Schwarber’s fit on the field is much murkier. As mentioned before, he is not a good fielder in any stretch of the imagination. His best fit is as a designated hitter, which the Phillies can now utilize with the new universal DH. But their plan is for Schwarber to primarily play left field and rotate the DH spot with him, Harper, Rhys Hoskins, and J.T. Realmuto. That would be fine with a plus defensive center fielder, but the Phillies don’t have that. Schwarber is going to have to hit well to make up for his inevitable defensive miscues.