After struggling last season in his sixth season with the Cubs, free-agent outfielder Kyle Schwarber agreed to a one-year contract with the Washington Nationals for $10 million, according to Jeff Passan of ESPN.
Schwarber was a big part of the 2016 World Series championship team for the Cubs but hit only .188 with 11 home runs in 59 games last. The 27-year-old outfielder was granted his free agency on December 3. A huge factor for choosing the Cubs was Schwarber’s relationship with Dave Martinez, who was a member of the Cubs coaching staff from 2015 to 2017. Schwarber loves playing for Martinez, and is willing to do what it takes to win, whether filling in at one of the corner outfield spots or being a designated hitter, should the NL bring the designated hitter back this season. If it is not brought back, Schwarber would play right field and protect left fielder Juan Soto in the middle of the batting order.
Although Schwarber would have loved to stay in Chicago, he has no ill will towards his former team and is looking forward to help the Nationals return back to contention and hopefully another World Series. A big power threat with the Cubs, Schwarber hit 121 home runs in 551 games, albeit with only a .230 batting average. However, he became a “Mr. October” of sorts, achieving a very significant .981 OPS in twenty four games in the playoffs. If the designated hitter is still being used this year, Schwarber has thrived in that role, particularly in the 2016 World Series, when he hit .412 in five games.
Schwarber joins a Washington lineup that was fourth in batting average, tenth in runs scored, but only 21st in home runs. The hope in Washington is that Schwarber can regain some of his 2016 magic. If so, that will likely propel the Nationals into contention for a playoff appearance.