Ranking the Top 10 Landing Spots for Kyle Schwarber in MLB Free Agency

Brandon Scott@@brandonkscottFeatured Columnist IDecember 26, 2021

Ranking the Top 10 Landing Spots for Kyle Schwarber in MLB Free Agency

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    Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

    The free-agent class is rich when a player as good as Kyle Schwarber is somewhat of an afterthought.

    Much of the attention has focused on the talented crop of shortstops and starting pitchers. 

    Schwarber's former Cubs teammate Kris Bryant, the National League MVP in 2016, is also looking for a new deal

    When the lockout ends, there is expected to be a robust market for Schwarber, who can play in left field, at first base, or as the designated hitter. 

    Let's take a look at which teams might pursue the 2021 All-Star and 2016 World Series champion. Here is a ranking of the top 10 landing spots for Schwarber, considering fit and reported interest.    

10. Colorado Rockies

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    The Rockies are looking for power bats, especially if the National League adopts the designated hitter. Between Schwarber's production and asking price of three years and $60 million, per Barry Jackson and Craig Mish of the Miami Herald, it makes sense for a Rockies team that's allowed more expensive talent to get away.

    Schwarber hit .266/.374/.554 with 32 home runs and 71 RBI in the regular season with the Washington Nationals and Boston Red Sox. That type of production would make an immediate difference for Colorado. 

    He could play left field, first base or even DH if that possibility presents itself for National League teams. 

    Schwarber has been on Rockies fans' radar since last offseason. MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reported the team's interest in Schwarber last month, pointing to the "huge market" for a power hitter who posted a 145 wRC+ last season.    

9. Miami Marlins

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    Mary Holt/Associated Press

    Schwarber is a preferred choice of the Marlins because they believe Nick Castellanos will be too expensive, according to Barry Jackson and Craig Mish of the Miami Herald. That's where Schwarber's reported three-year, $60 million asking price becomes relevant again, because it's another low-spending team that could take a chance.     

    The Marlins are looking for help in their outfield. The Herald reported their plan after the lockout ends is to either trade for an outfielder or sign one from the free-agent class. 

    Miami needs a middle-of-the-order bat, though Schwarber did his best work in 2021 leading off.

    The Marlins offense ranked near the bottom of the league in a lot of categories, something chief executive officer Derek Jeter wants to fix. The team has already reached out on both Schwarber and Castellanos, according to the Herald.

8. Atlanta Braves

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    It's surprising to not find any reports or rumors linking Schwarber to Atlanta. There's a chance franchise icon and first baseman Freddie Freeman could leave in free agency. Two of the three outfielders brought in before the trade deadline (Eddie Rosario and Jorge Soler) are also free agents. 

    The World Series champions might need a first baseman or a left fielder this offseason. Schwarber could be either, or both. 

    Yet the Schwarber reports seem more focused on the Phillies or a return to one of his previous stops.

    Schwarber is not as good an all-around player as Freeman, but this is one of the clearest ways to keep some power and postseason experience in the lineup if Atlanta loses one of its heroes.

7. Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    Signing Schwarber would be an interesting attempt by the Dodgers to replace Corey Seager's bat in the lineup. The two players are different but comparable in OPS.

    With the Dodgers already having their immediate Seager succession plan at shortstop with Trea Turner, adding Schwarber to the lineup would give them a similar left-handed presence at the plate. 

    There has not been much news linking Schwarber to L.A., as the Dodgers are after Freddie Freeman, per MLB Network's Jon Heyman. But one would have to think if the Dodgers are interested in one, they would also be in the other.

    Also, Freeman is reportedly seeking about $180 million over six years. Schwarber's asking price is reportedly $60 million over three years.

    Schwarber could play first base if the Dodgers move Max Muncy to second, or left field with Cody Bellinger in center and Chris Taylor in right. 

6. Washington Nationals

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    The Nationals traded Schwarber away when it became clear they were no longer contenders. It was part of the fire sale that also included Max Scherzer and Trea Turner. But bringing back Schwarber makes a lot of sense of Washington. 

    Before a hamstring injury sidelined him for a month-and-a-half, Schwarber had become one of the hottest hitters in baseball for the Nationals. In June, Schwarber hit 16 home runs across an 18-game stretch.

    According to MLB.com in November, the Nationals "could be interested in a reunion with Schwarber." He signed a one-year, $10 million deal with the Nationals last season, which ended up being a bargain. Rightfully so, Schwarber is planning to double his salary. 

5. Seattle Mariners

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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    Like the Dodgers, replacing a left-handed Seager bat is among the priorities in Seattle. Kyle Seager is likely gone. Schwarber would fill in nicely and has postseason success to boot. 

    Schwarber brings more than 100 career postseason plate appearances, with World Series pedigree from the 2016 Chicago Cubs. He could see time at first base, left field or designated hitter.    

    Reports indicate the Mariners are more interested in Bryant. Mariners president Jerry Dipoto was complimentary of Bryant's career when speaking with reporters last month at the annual general managers meetings in Carlsbad, California. 

    Dipoto also said they are most interested in players who have the versatility to do a couple of different things, so the team can be creative in filling its gaps. 

    "At the end of the day we want to improve our talent base, and we want to improve our run-scoring capability," Dipoto said, via NBC Sports. 

    Sounds like Schwarber.

4. New York Yankees

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    Charles Krupa/Associated Press

    It's a rule of thumb to not dismiss the Yankees when there's a powerful left-handed bat available. There are not many clear paths for Schwarber in the Yankees' lineup without him becoming their everyday first baseman or a trade of one of their outfielders. 

    If they don't bring back Anthony Rizzo, then signing the former Cub looks like a viable option, as he would be an upgrade over Luke Voit. 

    It stands out how the big-spending Yankees were a non-participant in the pre-lockout free-agent frenzy. They were expected to be in the mix for one of the top free-agent shortstops like Trevor Story, Corey Seager or Carlos Correa. 

    But the Yankees could also go the less expensive route, sign Andrelton Simmons and make swiping Schwarber from the Red Sox their major offseason splash.

3. St. Louis Cardinals

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    This would be a gut punch to Cubs fans. Losing their World Series core prematurely is one thing, but it's entirely different to watch one of those players sign with the rival St. Louis Cardinals

    To be sure, the only chatter around Schwarber to St. Louis has been about fit, rather than actual interest. Mark Polishuk of MLB Trade Rumors fielded questions in a recent mailbag asking if the Cardinals had interest in left-handed bats like Schwarber and Joc Pederson. Polishuk acknowledged either would fit, especially with the DH option likely coming to the National League.   

    All they really have for lefties in St. Louis are the switch-hitting Tommy Edman and Dylan Carlson, neither the type of lefty power bat they would get from Schwarber. 

    Maybe he's not good enough to play every day on a Cardinals defense that led baseball in outs above average and runs prevented. But he would be a great addition as their primary designated hitter.

2. Boston Red Sox

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    Signing Schwarber would be the Red Sox's boldest free-agent move thus far. They have not spent a lot of money since curiously trading away Mookie Betts nearly two years ago. 

    The Red Sox bolstered their pitching with the additions of James Paxton, Michael Wacha and Rich Hill. They also brought back Gold Glove center fielder and lefty Jackie Bradley Jr. by trading right fielder Hunter Renfroe to the Milwaukee Brewers

    Unlike those teams seeking a left-handed bat, a Schwarber reunion in Boston would make this a left-handed-heavy lineup. 

    Boston was reported to still be in the mix for Schwarber in late November, but that was before the trade for Bradley.

    "Obviously swapping Hunter for Jackie does change the handedness of our group a little bit," chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom told reporters. "So maybe the dial moves a little more toward a right-handed bat where before it might have been towards a left-handed bat. But there's different ways it can come together with the versatility and flexibility that we have. So we're going to keep looking to supplement."   

1. Philadelphia Phillies

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    The Phillies have a hole to fill in left field and Schwarber is a great candidate to do it. According to NBC Sports Philadelphia's Corey Seidman, the Phillies pursued Schwarber before the lockout but were unable to finalize an agreement.   

    Schwarber would fill the Phillies' need in left field and help support NL MVP Bryce Harper in the lineup. 

    The question is whether the market for Schwarber is even more competitive once the lockout ends, the universal DH is implemented, and he's one of the best players left available after months of inactivity.

    The Phillies could also show interest in Nick Castellanos, but that would cost more in both dollars and draft capital. Castellanos rejected the Reds' qualifying offer, so the Phillies would be giving up their second-highest draft pick if they signed him.