The Detroit Tigers should consider signing free agent Kyle Schwarber

(Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /

When you look across the current projected Detroit Tigers starting lineup, it’s got a nice blend of athleticism, speed, and power.

In years past, the Tigers were a station to station team that relied heavily on its power yet struggled to go first to third on a hit in the gap, plus didn’t steal very many bases.  Over the past couple of seasons, it’s become evident that with A.J. Hinch at the helm, the organization is making a conscious effort to become a much more well-rounded club moving forward.  Kyle Schwarber doesn’t exactly fit that mold.

Last season the Tigers took a flier on rule five pick Akil Baddoo which paid off in a big way.  Baddoo appears as though he’s just scratching the surface of what he may become shortly.  He certainly has the ‘makings’ of a five-tool player.

The Tigers also gained a power bat out of nowhere with Eric Haase last year, but will he be able to replicate his 2021 season again in ’22?  Haase is expected to spell newly added Tucker Barnhart behind the dish and spend some time in left field and as the designated hitter.

When it comes to the projected lineup, the Detroit Tigers appear to be nearly set, that is, if both of their top positional prospects, Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene, both burst onto the scene as rookies, and each earns themself a starting role in 2022.

If both prospects make the opening day roster, I expect to see the outfield align from left to right; Baddoo, Greene, and Robbie Grossman.  The infield from left to right will be Jeimer Candelario, Javier Baez, Jonathan Schoop, and Spencer Torkelson, with Miguel Cabrera serving as the designated hitter.

So, that lineup doesn’t look all that bad, especially when you can slide Schoop back to second base, making his bat and offensive production so much more valuable for his position rather than having him play first base.

But what if Torkelson and Greene both need more time in triple-A to begin the season?

It’s the realization that every fan of the Detroit Tigers refuses even to consider.  I do believe both players will be productive big-leaguers for years to come, but it’s not a guarantee both perform well enough in the spring to earn a starting role in Detroit.

The Detroit Tigers should entertain the idea of signing free agent Kyle Schwarber.

The idea of adding left-handed slugger Kyle Schwarber is very intriguing to me.  Schwarber began his career as a catcher and was quickly moved to left-field with the Chicago Cubs to keep his bat in the lineup. Following a brutal 2020 campaign, he hit just .188 with an OPS of .701, hitting 11 home runs and driving in 24, which signaled the end of his career with the Cubs. The one time World Series hero’s production then fell off the face of the earth.

Before last season, Schwarber signed a ‘prove it’ type one-year deal with the Washington Nationals for $10 million.  Prove it is precisely what Schwarber did.  He’d eventually be traded from the cellar of Washington to the Boston Red Sox.  Schwarber went through a long scorching hot stretch where it felt like he hit a home run in every other at-bat.

In 2021, Schwarber slashed career-best across the board .266/.374/.554 with an OPS of .928.  He hit 32 home runs and drove in 71. In 41 games with Boston, Schwarber hit seven home runs and drove in 18.

Where would Kyle Schwarber fit in with the Detroit Tigers?

The power-hitting Schwarber can be inserted into the lineup against right-handed pitching, where he excelled last season.  He ranked as the eight best hitters against right-handed pitching last season, slashing .264/.366/.623 with an OPS of .990 in 322 plate appearances.

Schwarber can rotate between left field, where he’s played the majority of his career, along with being the designated hitter when Cabrera takes a turn at first base or needs a day off.  Schwarber can also be worked in over at first base.  He played ten games at first last season with the Red Sox and provided them with a fielding percentage of .985 over a 75 inning sample size.

Schwarber brings a much-needed middle-of-lineup power bat to the Tigers.  Adding Schwarber means far less opportunity for someone like Eric Haase, who’d then be utilized mainly as a backup catcher, and left-fielder and nearly playing exclusively against left-handed pitching.

According to Spotrac, Schwarber’s projected annual salary is expected to be $12.9 million, so he certainly won’t break the bank.

Playing Schwarber means the Tigers are willing to give up some defense for offense, and that is not exactly manager Hinch’s philosophy.

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Adding the 28-year old also suggests one of Greene or Torkelson may not make the opening day roster, and I don’t expect the Tigers to jump to that assumption meaning they are doubtful to add someone like Schwarber this offseason. Still, it’s at least something to consider.