(670 The Score) The White Sox hit 96 homers in the shortened 60-game regular season of 2020, a mark that was good for the third-most in MLB.
Of those, only 15 came from the left side of the plate. It’s no secret that the White Sox have wanted more pop from the left side, where starting right fielder Nomar Mazara hit just one homer in 2020 before the team non-tendered him last week.
Which begs the questions: Does outfielder Kyle Schwarber make any sense for the White Sox in free agency after he was non-tendered by the Cubs last week?
The Cubs parted ways with the 27-year-old Schwarber because he was expected to earn $8 million or $9 million in arbitration and they didn’t believe his production was commensurate with his cost amid a difficult financial climate in MLB. When it came to the trade discussions before Schwarber was non-tendered, other teams had the same concern as the Cubs, sources said, believing it wasn’t worth giving a player up to acquire him at the projected arbitration cost for 2021.
Schwarber is coming off a rough season in which he hit .188 with 11 homers and a .701 OPS, but he hit 38 homers and posted an .871 OPS in 2019.
Just because teams passed on him recently on the trade market doesn’t mean they’re not interested in Schwarber in free agency. The Angels, Yankees and Blue Jays are three teams that have interest in Schwarber, sources said. Current Angels and former Cubs manager Joe Maddon is known to have a great affinity for Schwarber. Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer has also left the door open for Schwarber to re-sign if the price is right for each side, though that may be unlikely.
A potential fit between Schwarber and the White Sox is a little trickier, as it would depend on how much they value defense in right field, what type of platoon system they envision putting in place and their plan to fill the designated hitter spot.
White Sox left fielder Eloy Jimenez is a poor defender, and while Schwarber has a strong arm that would fit well in right field, he doesn’t have above-average range. So to add Schwarber as the regular right fielder would raise defensive concerns on both sides of Gold Glove-winning center fielder Luis Robert.
What Schwarber does bring is the ability to hit right-handers well, as he has a career .859 OPS against them. If the White Sox are primarily worried about offensive production over defense in right field, Schwarber could fit. Or if the White Sox wanted to utilize the DH spot for Schwarber and/or Jimenez on a somewhat regular basis, that would lessen the defensive concerns. But the DH slot also figures be used to keep Yasmani Grandal’s bat in the lineup when he doesn’t catch, to give first baseman Jose Abreu a little breather and to potentially provide highly regarded prospect Andrew Vaughn a chance to get at-bats.