MLB free agency: Nationals sign ex-Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber to one-year contract

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The Washington Nationals have made another addition to their lineup. The club signed outfielder Kyle Schwarber to a one-year contract worth $10 million on Saturday, Jim Bowden of CBS Sports HQ has confirmed. The Nationals have not yet announced the signing.

Schwarber, 28 in March, was non-tendered by the Cubs last month. He was projected to earn approximately $8 million through arbitration in 2021, though the abbreviated 60-game season has thrown a wrench into arbitration models. Schwarber had a poor 2020 season, hitting .188/.308/.393 with 11 home runs in 59 games. 


The Nationals added Josh Bell, who is similar to Schwarber in that he’s a power hitter with big upside coming off a down year, in a three-player trade with the Pirates last month. Washington’s regular lineup figures to look something like this:

  1. SS Trea Turner
  2. RF Juan Soto
  3. 1B Josh Bell
  4. LF Kyle Schwarber
  5. 2B Starlin Castro
  6. C Yan Gomes
  7. CF Victor Robles
  8. 3B Carter Kieboom
  9. Pitcher’s spot

Soto moved to right field late last year and was expected to remain there moving forward. The Schwarber signing confirms that will be the case. Once the universal DH becomes permanent (it has not happened yet but is expected to prior to Opening Day) the Nationals could bring back franchise icon Ryan Zimmerman. 

Bell and Schwarber are below-average defenders — Robles is an outstanding center fielder and I’m guessing the Nationals are hoping he can mitigate Schwarber’s shortcomings a bit — so Washington is banking on them returning to form at the plate in 2021. Bell hit 37 home runs in 2019 and Schwarber hit 38. Their upside is considerable.

The Nationals followed up their 2019 World Series victory with a 26-34 record in 2020. With Bell and Schwarber now aboard, Washington could still use help at third base and behind the plate, as well as at the back of the rotation.


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