Since you’re asking, yes, new Philadelphia Phillies hitting coach Kevin Long does appear to be keen on the idea of reuniting with one of his most successful pupils.
After being non-tendered by the Chicago Cubs last offseason, Kyle Schwarber revived his career in 2021 thanks in large part to the tutelage of Long, then the Washington Nationals hitting coach. Schwarber homered 16 times and posted a 1.122 OPS in the month of June for the Nats, earning him his first trip to the All-Star Game and ultimately making him a major midseason addition for the Boston Red Sox as they attempted to make a deep postseason run.
Now a free agent, MLB Network‘s Jon Heyman has already predicted that Schwarber will sign with the Phillies and reunite with Long this winter. When he broached the topic with Long this morning, the new Phillies hitting coach had a pretty funny reaction:
Long then responded to the question of whether Schwarber would fit with the Phillies, and talked about what made the slugging outfielder successful in 2021.
“Well, I do think he’d fit the Phillies,” Long said. “I’m a Kyle Schwarber fan, I think the world of this guy. [He’s a] baseball junky, baseball rat … [he] loves to talk baseball, he loves to talk hitting.
“There were just some things that I thought he could do better and when we addressed it in the offseason, we attacked it pretty firmly. I thought he got really upright in his stance. I thought he started creating a lot of forward movement. He wasn’t staying behind the ball well. He was pretty much long to contact, as I would explain it. And I thought there was a lot more in the tank, and we started addressing those issues.
“And midway through the first half, he caught fire. I mean, you guys saw it. [Nationals manager] Davey [Martinez] inserted him into the leadoff spot and he went crazy. I mean, it was to the point where guys didn’t want to miss the first pitch of the game because they thought he might go deep. And he was doing it, every single day it seemed like he was hitting a home run.
“But he’s a remarkable player, a great clubhouse guy and somebody you want on your team. And when he started putting together those offensive numbers, at that point, he became one of the best players in the league.”
The market for Schwarber doesn’t appear to be developing as quickly as Starling Marte, but Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo has already acknowledged that the team would be open to a reunion. The Red Sox — even if left field and DH aren’t necessarily open in 2022 — will probably mount some sort of attempt to retain Schwarber. And in addition to the Phillies, the Cleveland Guardians and New York Mets are among the teams that could benefit from adding Schwarber to their lineups.
Over on Audacy Sports, I projected that Schwarber will land a four-year/$65 million contract this offseason, though it would hardly be shocking if he gets more money than that given that you won’t have to surrender draft compensation to sign him.
For the Phillies, Schwarber could replace Andrew McCutchen in left field, with the possibility of him either leading off or adding another power bat to the middle of Joe Girardi’s lineup.
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