If the San Diego Padres want offensive punch, they would do well in signing Kyle Schwarber this winter once play resumes.
As the baseball season begins after the labor dispute, you can be assured that the San Diego Padres will be active.
A.J. Preller is not shy about transactions, and there are several rumors swirling about potential Padres additions, especially concerning the offense.
The number one concern for the team seems to center around Eric Hosmer and what to do with the first baseman. The Padres would like to get out of his contract and the almost $60 million still owed to Hosmer for the next four seasons. At the same time, the Padres are low on top-tiered prospects and are reportedly balking at the idea of trading multiple young players to get rid of Hosmer and the money owed.
Something will need to be done as soon as the baseball season begins. Several teams are eager to get the winter transaction period going. The Padres are not the only team looking for offensive help, and most believe there will be a feeding frenzy once transactions resume in the league.
The Padres and Preller likely have several scenarios laid out before them as the team is on a quest for offensive help.
One player who the team is likely keeping tabs on is outfielder/infielder Kyle Schwarber. The former Cubs prospect is in his free agency year and the soon-to-be-29-year-old is an interesting option for the Padres. San Diego needs corner outfield help now, and they could also require help at the designated hitter position (depending on if the DH in the N.L. is a thing in 2022).
Then there is the fact that last year, Schwarber was used at first base by the Red Sox at the end of the year. The right-handed thrower looked serviceable there and could be useful for the Padres if a trade of Hosmer actually does happen. Platooning Schwarber with a right-handed hitting first baseman could be very fruitful for the Padres moving forward.
Let’s take a look at the benefits of Kyle Schwarber before examining any potential red flags.
Power from the left side
Schwarber brings a ton of offensive potential and does so from the left side of the plate. That is something the Padres need. The slugger owns 153 career home runs and would provide an immediate power presence to the Padres lineup. Schwarber made his first All-Star Game last year as he recorded a .266/.374/.554 slash line with a .928 OPS in 113 games and 399 at-bats between the Red Sox and Nationals. He slugged 32 homers last year, including three in the postseason for Boston. Power is his forte, and Schwarber would fit right into the middle of the Padres lineup.
Last winter, Schwarber signed a one-year deal for $10-million with the Nationals. After a productive season in 2021, it is fair to expect a multiple-year deal with a slight increase in annual money for the left-handed hitter. The Padres may be able to entice the power hitter to sign at or near three years and $39 million. That is ironically what the last three years of Eric Hosmer’s contract would cost the Padres. Schwarber is capable of a lot with the bat, so this kind of price tag is quite reasonable. There will be demand for Kyle Schwarber, so there must be some desire for him to play in San Diego.
Drafted as a catcher, Schwarber has proved to be very flexible in his career. His days behind the plate are long over, but you can stick him in left field or first base and not lose too much defensively. The outfield defense is nothing to write home to mom about, but he showed really well at first base for the Red Sox last season. His value is with the bat, but the slugging left-handed gives a manager some defensive flexibility. That is a nice thing to have in this modern era of the game.
Injury potential and missing time is a potential concern as Schwarber has only played in more than 137 games once in his seven-year career. A lot of that comes from the fact the Cubs used him as a catcher initially as he made it to the majors. He was slowly turned into an outfielder but could prove to be healthier as a first baseman/designated hitter.
The glove is not a positive for Schwarber, and there is no guarantee he can be a serviceable first baseman. The DH saves his value as the thought of him in the outfield on a nightly basis is not appealing for a contending club. Can Schwarber provide adequate defense, or is he just a DH?
There are also some concerns about his ability to hit left-handed pitching and an offensive regression is expected to some degree. Heading into his 30’s, Schwarber could turn his game to a new level or he could taper off in production and be out of the game in a matter of years. Players of his ilk are a risk, but the reward could be outstanding. The Padres must be confident that Schwarber intends to get better with age.
It will come down to the cost when talking about this possible addition. The Padres’ first priority is to gain some financial flexibility. They must determine what to do with Eric Hosmer. If that issue is resolved, a signing of Kyle Schwarber makes sense on several levels. Only time will tell what will happen.