Schwarber back to Boston? Bloom sees a fit

November 10th, 2021

Who says that J.D. Martinez and Kyle Schwarber can’t fit in the same Boston lineup for a full season?

Certainly not chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, who remains hopeful that the Red Sox can re-sign Schwarber. The slugger was a near-perfect fit production-wise and from a chemistry standpoint following the trade that brought him over from the Nationals at the end of July.

“Yeah, we like Kyle. He fits us,” Bloom said on Tuesday at the General Managers Meetings in Carlsbad, Calif. “We'll see how it all plays out, but we absolutely would love to have him back.”

Schwarber's defensive fit with the Red Sox isn’t always easy to see when you consider the following: Martinez is back as the designated hitter for another season, Alex Verdugo is the primary left fielder, Kiké Hernández is in center -- assuming he doesn't go to second base -- and Bobby Dalbec has had success while calling first base his regular home.

“Granted, because of the reasons you mentioned, we are well staffed at those positions, but we had all three of those guys here down the stretch,” Bloom said. “And that was when we were playing our best. And that was with [Scwharber] learning [first base] on the fly, and we saw great progress.”

The Red Sox are a dangerous offensive team with both Schwarber and Martinez in the lineup. In the postseason, Schwarber batted leadoff against righties and second against lefties. Martinez batted fifth or sixth. And in between those two mashers, there was the emerging Hernández, as well as the potent Rafael Devers/Xander Bogaerts combo.

Factor in how much of a threat Verdugo is against righties, and Boston could potentially have a fearsome lineup with Schwarber in the fold for a full season.

“Obviously, we have to be mindful of what that fit would look like, and knowing that we have J.D. as a force in our lineup who is a primary DH, that obviously means something for how the roster comes together and the different possibilities we look at,” Bloom said. “But they both fit. We got six wins from a title with them being key players for us, so there's no reason it can’t fit going forward.”

Are Whitlock and/or Houck rotation bound?
Rookies Garrett Whitlock and Tanner Houck were two of Boston’s most important pitchers down the stretch. They could take on more prominent roles in 2021, as one or both could wind up in the starting rotation.

Whitlock has never started a game in the Major Leagues, but he came up in that role in the Minors before undergoing Tommy John surgery in ’19. Houck has started 16 games for the Red Sox over the past two seasons.

“I think we'll see how the offseason unfolds,” Bloom said. “Tanner's been developed as a starter. When we brought Garrett into the organization, we saw him as a starting-pitching prospect. We think even more highly of their upsides than we did at this time last year. Obviously, they both did some really good things this year. And they have the ceiling to be Major League starters.

“The advantage of them being able to do different things means that depending on how the offseason shakes out and the different things we’re able to do, it may make more sense to have them in a different role. I think we'd be foolish to cut off the upside of them being starters at some point. And that point could be next year, but it depends how it all shakes out.”

Longer term deals?
In Bloom’s time as chief baseball officer with the Red Sox, he hasn’t signed any player to more than a two-year deal. In fact, most of his free-agent signings have been for one year. Could that change this offseason?

“I think that’s likelier than not,” Bloom said. “And even in the time that I've been here so far, there are things we explored that certainly could have taken another shape, that just for whatever reason -- various reasons in each case -- just didn't happen. That wasn't something we were opposed to before.

“It just wasn't anything that made sense for both us and players we're negotiating. So I would expect that that would change. Again, not because we were opposed to it before, but just I think it's likelier that as we go on, we'll line up on more of those types of things.”

Devers long term?
While Bloom didn’t discuss a potential extension for Devers, who has two seasons left before he is eligible for free agency, he made it clear how much the club values the All-Star slugger.

“He’s huge. He’s a really special person, a really special player,” Bloom said. “He has ability at the plate that is unusual, and the way he does things is so unique to him, as you see with a lot of great hitters. And the fact that he was originally signed here and developed here and having that type of player is special.” reporter Adam Berry contributed to this story from Carlsbad.