The Dodgers lost an impactful left-handed bat when shortstop Corey Seager signed with the Texas Rangers this winter. Replacing a .915 OPS hitter is no small task. Rumors have swirled around the Dodgers signing first baseman Freddie Freeman this offseason. One Dodgers reporter floated a back-up plan if LA strikes out on signing Freeman.
The Orange County Register’s Bill Plunkett thinks LA should kick the tires on Kyle Schwarber.
“Given the Dodgers’ weak bench last season, adding a bat would be ideal. Of the best remaining free agent hitters Kyle Schwarber seems like an ideal fit – he is left-handed and has been a DH even as he played the field for the Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals.”
Plunkett might be on to something. Last season, Schwarber ranked 10th in wRC+ (145) among hitters with min. 450 PAs. He also a top-ten hitter by OPS (.928).
Schwarber owes much of his success to an out-of-this-world June that earned him MLB player of the month honors. He smashed 16 home runs, collected 30 RBI, and posted an absurd 1.122 OPS in 27 games that month.
Why the DH Opens the Door for Schwarber-to-LA
The Schwarber-to-the-Dodgers idea hinges on the implementation of the universal DH. Which, has been one of the few things the league and the MLBPA have been able to agree on during the divisive CBA negotiations.
By most metrics and the eye test, Schwarber is a below average fielder. In over 4000 innings in left field for the Cubs, Schwarber posted just one season with a positive DRS (Defensive Runs Saved). The DH paves the way for the Dodgers to add a Schwarber’s power while minimizing their exposure to his poor defense.
Justin Turner figures to get plenty of reps as the Dodgers DH if the rules comes to the NL, but the Dodgers are adept at mixing in all of their talented players. If Schwarber is on board with the role, he can be a premium mix-and-match bat off the bench.
For his career, the 28-year-old owns a .880 against RHP.
Schwarber can be the Bizarro-version of last year’s Albert Pujols.
The Dodgers already have three legitimate outfielders: Mookie Betts, Cody Bellinger, AJ Pollock, plus Swiss army knife Chris Taylor.
Signing Schwarber would not be to bolster their outfield. It would be a more economical option if Freeman proves to be unattainable.
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