While it increasingly appears that the Philadelphia Phillies will use the duo of Odúbel Herrera and Matt Vierling in center field, Bryce Harper now knows that he’ll be joined by another star in the outfield in 2022.
The Phillies have yet to announce the signing at the time of publication, but Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia and the duo of Ken Rosenthal and Jayson Stark of The Athletic were among those to report Wednesday that the Phillies had reached a four-year deal with Kyle Schwarber, pending a physical.
As expected, Harper is pleased with the news.
“I mean, it’s huge for us,” Harper told the collective media in Clearwater, including Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. “It gives us another bat in our lineup. Like I said the other day, he’s a proven winner, everywhere he’s gone, he’s done a really good job. It just gives us a huge opportunity to fill that void out in left field and gives us a huge opportunity to get that much better.”
After being non-tendered by the Chicago Cubs last offseason, Schwarber revived his career, thanks in large part to new Phillies hitting coach Kevin Long. In a season split between the Washington Nationals and Boston Red Sox, Schwarber was an All-Star for the first time, slashing .266/.374/.554 with 32 home runs, 71 RBIs, 64 walks and a .928 OPS in 113 games.
Your initial inclination would be to think that Schwarber will hit somewhere in the middle of the Joe Girardi’s order — perhaps fifth, behind Rhys Hoskins — because of his power. That may prove to be the case, but it’s also true that the Phillies don’t currently have a great option to lead off, and Schwarber hit .297 with 17 home runs and 30 RBIs in the top spot in the lineup a season ago.
It’s unclear how likely it is that the Phillies sign another true middle-of-the-order bat before the start of the 2022 season, but if they did, that would make it much easier to have Schwarber lead off. And as happy as he is to have Schwarber set to join the team, the reigning National League MVP sounds like he’d be even happier if there’s another major addition on the way.
“…Like I said the other day, you had to trust in what [Dave] Dombrowski was gonna do for us, and that was a huge void for us. I think seeing that the Braves are getting a lot better … seeing that the Mets are getting a lot better … we have to stay up on that.
“In this clubhouse, we’re here to win. I know that the fans want us to be a winning team, and this organization wants to be a winning team. So being able to add somebody like that is going to be able to help us that much more, and hopefully we’re not done and we can go out and get another guy and see where we go from there.”
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