So, about the trade deadline . . .
As the Red Sox sputtered for the first two weeks that followed the trade deadline, fans crushed the team for its relative inaction. While the Yankees added Joey Gallo and Anthony Rizzo and the Rays acquired masher Nelson Cruz, the Sox “only” added Kyle Schwarber — a player who was unable to contribute for two full weeks after the deadline while recovering from a hamstring strain.
The Red Sox went 3-10 between the deadline and Schwarber’s Boston debut. Their once commanding position in the playoff hunt crumbled. Some members of the team acknowledged disappointment in seeing divisional rivals achieve obvious upgrades while they had to wait for any meaningful improvement.
Since Schwarber made his first appearance in a Red Sox uniform on Aug. 13, however, that outlook has shifted. The lumberjack slugger continued his brilliant performance for his new team on Friday, leading off the first inning with a homer (his 29th of the year and fourth with the Red Sox) and, in the seventh, unknotted a 3-3 tie by drilling a two-run double to right-center that set in motion an 8-5 Red Sox win over Cleveland.
The 28-year-old is hitting .344/.468/.609 with four homers as a member of the Sox. While there was some expectation that he’d need to build back into regular playing time, Schwarber has been a constant, playing in 18 of 20 games since his activation.
That ability to post, in turn, has made Schwarber a steadying presence in a stretch when the Sox have endured offensive inconsistency. He’s delivered some of the best offensive numbers in the big leagues regardless of whether he’s hitting in the middle of the lineup or the top of it.
“This is what we expected,” said Sox manager Alex Cora. “Our guy was hurt [when he came to the Sox] but we knew he was going to impact the lineup whenever he was ready and he puts [together] good at-bats after good at-bats. Fit right in in the clubhouse, helping other guys throughout their process and he’s been amazing for us.”
The Sox are 11-7 in the games Schwarber has played. His performance represents arguably the biggest midyear jolt the team has gotten from a deadline pickup in more than a decade, the provision of instant offense to a struggling club hearkening to acquisitions such as Victor Martinez (2009) and Jason Bay (2008). (Eduardo Núñez in 2017 and Steve Pearce in 2018 both merit some mention.)
In a frenzied deadline that featured a stunning number of stars changing teams, Schwarber has had one of the biggest impacts among those who swapped uniforms. The Sox were never going to trade the prospects necessary to acquire one of the standout players who remained under team control beyond 2021, making them non-factors in the markets for players such as Gallo and Trea Turner.
So, setting those two players aside, here’s a look at Schwarber’s performance with the Sox in comparison to those of the other rental position players who moved at the deadline:
Schwarber: .344/.468/.609 with four homers in 18 games — his OBP, and slugging percentage are the highest among players who were traded.
Rizzo: .250/.337/.447 with four homers in 21 games. He’s posted a line with the Yankees that is nearly identical to the one he provided for the Cubs prior to being dealt, though several of his hits have come in pivotal situations and he’s strengthened New York’s infield defense.
Starling Marte: .343/.378/.485 with three homers and 20 steals for Oakland, a transformative performance for the A’s.
Kris Bryant: .278/.333/.546 with six homers in 26 games for the Giants. A middle-of-the-order force who has offered San Francisco everything for which it hoped.
Jorge Soler: .274/.376/.557 with nine homers in 29 games for Atlanta. A force who has helped his new team surge in the NL East.
IN THE MIDDLE
Eduardo Escobar: .280/.337/.451 with two homers in 21 games for Milwaukee. He’s been fine and his versatility will prove valuable in the postseason.
Eddie Rosario: .286/.375/.643 in five games for Atlanta. Good start after coming off the injured list in the last week but the jury remains out.
Adam Duvall: .206/.292/.467 with eight homers in 30 games for Atlanta. He’s offered power and decent defense to Atlanta.
NOT WHAT THEY HOPED FOR
Javy Báez: .214/.267/.429 with four homers in 20 games for the Mets. His offense has disappointed and he’s become enmeshed in tabloid controversy.
Nelson Cruz: .203/.261/.415 with seven homers in 31 games for Tampa Bay. He’s seemed bewildered by playing in the Tropicana Dome.
It’s still reasonable to note that Schwarber’s fit for the Sox was imperfect given his inexperience at first base, but the increased outfield depth he provided has been significant given the COVID-19 sidelining of both Kiké Hernández and now Jarren Duran. Meanwhile, the recent offensive surge by Bobby Dalbec has made the team’s first base crisis less acute.
The Red Sox are now three games ahead of the A’s for the second wild-card spot with 25 contests remaining.
If they are indeed on the other side of their summer swoon and manage to hold onto their playoff position, the arrival of Schwarber (which came one day before Chris Sale’s return) will represent a landmark in that development.
“I’ve liked him and admired him for a long time, and everything he’s done since coming here has only strengthened that impression,” Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said this week. “He’s done nothing but impress since he’s shown up. Really [he’s been] everything we could have hoped for and then some.”