2:05pm: The Giants are also in the mix for Schwarber, tweets Sherman. He adds that the while the Yankees still have interest but at the moment appear to have their focus on other targets.
1:17pm: Despite being on the injured list with a hamstring strain, Nationals slugger Kyle Schwarber is generating trade interest and could be moved sometime today, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Sherman lists the Yankees, Red Sox and Blue Jays as possible trade partners for the Nats.
Schwarber, 28, was the hottest hitter on the planet prior to his injury. His overall .253/.340/.570 line was plenty solid in its own right, but the former No. 4 overall draft pick had gone an a legitimately historic tear to close out June, homering 16 times in 19 games. In his final 21 games before hitting the injured list, Schwarber posted an almost comically dominant .338/.409/.974 batting line over the life of 88 plate appearances.
The Cubs non-tendered Schwarber this past offseason, and he eventually latched on with the Nationals on a one-year, $10MM deal that now looks quite affordable. That deal comes with an $11MM mutual option, but mutual options are little more than accounting measures the vast majority of the time. Generally speaking, if team picks up their end of the option it’s because the player has played well enough to price himself out of that salary (as would be the case with Schwarber, based on his production to date). If the player picks up his end, it’s usually due to poor performance or injury, and the team then declines.
While Schwarber’s hamstring injury obviously hampers his trade value, he’s been running in the outfield recently and could return sometime in mid-August. With the elimination of August trade waivers, the Nationals are faced with the choice of trading him now or keeping him for the remainder of the year then losing him for nothing. They could, of course, make Schwarber a qualifying offer, but that’d nearly double his 2021 salary in the event that he accepted, which the Nationals may not prefer.
The Yankees have been connected to Schwarber for years, so it’s no surprise to see Sherman suggest them as a possibility. That said, with their recent acquisition of Joey Gallo, they’re something of a tough fit. The Yanks now have Gallo, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton already on the roster. It’s possible they could just plug Schwarber into left field in the event that they’re comfortable committing to Gallo in center for the remainder of the year, however. It wouldn’t be an ideal defensive alignment, obviously, but that’d be a balanced and rather terrifying heart of the order for opposing pitchers to navigate.
The Jays and Red Sox present their own problems. Toronto already has a crowded outfield mix featuring Lourdes Gurriel Jr., George Springer, Teoscar Hernandez and Randal Grichuk. They were tied to Nelson Cruz earlier in the month however, and acquiring Cruz could be viewed in a similar lens. He’d give them an option at DH or in left field, pushing Grichuk into a fourth outfield role. Over in Boston, the Red Sox have Alex Verdugo, top prospect Jarren Duran and Hunter Renfroe in the outfield, with J.D. Martinez shoring things up at designated hitter. Schwarber has played all of three games at first base in the minors, for those who are wondering.