Not long after the Cubs non-tendered Kyle Schwarber in early December, manager David Ross was asked about the popular slugger.
“Unfortunately for everybody, it didn’t turn out the way he wanted or we wanted,” Ross said. “We all love Kyle and what he’s done here for the Cubs and would welcome him back with open arms. But I have a feeling there are going to be a lot of teams picking up the phone to call his agent.”
The Nationals were one of those teams, and they reportedly signed Schwarber to a one-year, $10 million contract Saturday.
Never known for his defense during his six-year stay with the Cubs, Schwarber could have signed with an American League team and filled the designated hitter role.
Instead, he’s joined Washington and is expected to remain in left field. The Nationals can move young star Juan Soto from left to right.
The National League used the DH last season but is not expected to have it this year.
Adam Eaton, Washington’s primary right fielder the last four seasons, exited as a free agent and rejoined the White Sox on a one-year, $7 million contract with an $8.5 million club option for 2022.
After leading the Cubs with 38 home runs in 2019, Schwarber hit 11 last season while batting .188 and striking out 66 times in 191 at-bats.
It was a down year, but the No. 4 overall pick in the 2014 draft will always be remembered for helping the Cubs make the playoffs five times in the last six seasons.
As rookie in 2015, Schwarber lifted the Cubs to a 4-0 win over the Pirates in the wild-card game while going 2-for-3 with 3 RBI, highlighted by a 2-run homer off Pittsburgh starter Gerrit Cole that landed in the Allegheny River.
Moving on to the NLDS, he powered the Cubs over the Cardinals while going 5-for-10 with a pair of home runs. In Game 4 vs. St. Louis, Schwarber hit a home run at Wrigley Field that landed on top of the right-field scoreboard.
In 2016, Schwarber injured his knee in the second game of the regular season and was expected to miss the rest of the year.
He made it back for the World Series and helped the Cubs rally past the Indians for their first championship in 108 years while going 7-for-17.
“Chicago ... from being drafted, to playoffs 5 out of 6 years, to being a World Series champion!” Schwarber wrote on Twitter after being non-tendered. “I want to thank all the fans for the overwhelming support these past 7 years of being in the organization. It never got old running out to left field and being able to give you guys a salute. It really is different at Wrigley. It was an absolute pleasure to go out there everyday and grind with the fellas for you guys and I’m forever grateful for my teammates, coaches, staff and the fans. Thank you again from the bottom of my heart! Until we meet again.”