Will the new CBA ruin the Phillies’ chances of signing Kyle Schwarber after the lockout?
However public silence does not equal private idleness, and according to numerous reports, the Phillies were quite active ahead of the lockout, pursuing and contacting several notable free agents. They were able to sign reliever Corey Knebel before the deadline, and they made a few other less notable roster moves. And they were apparently all-in on Kyle Schwarber but weren’t able to close the deal.
Unsurprising for a team known for blowing saves.
In all seriousness, the Phillies had the pre-lockout deck stacked against them when negotiating with Schwarber. As NBC Sports Philadelphia‘s Corey Seidman noted, the potential return of the Universal DH gives Schwarber a larger array of options. It also gives the Phillies more competition for him.
"“The Phillies pursued Schwarber before the lockout but were unable to come to a deal, possibly because he foresees even more leverage when the game resumes. The National League will likely implement the designated hitter in the next CBA, expanding the number of teams Schwarber would fit.”"
So the good news is that they were in pursuit. The bad news is that when the lockout ends and a new CBA is in place, it’s likely that the Phillies will have an even harder time signing Schwarber.
What kind of contract does Kyle Schwarber want?
Schwarber is reportedly in the market for a three-year deal in the range of $60M. This is another way the CBA will impact the Phillies’ chances of signing him. In the last CBA, a player’s AAV (average annual value) was what counted toward their team’s luxury tax payroll. If this goes unchanged in the new CBA, then no matter how the Phillies slice up a deal, approximately $20M (or more) would count towards their already-high payroll, which has never exceeded the threshold before. But if the new CBA changes the qualifications of the luxury tax, it will likely make the Phillies more willing to spend big on the slugger.
In his age-28 season, Schwarber totally transformed himself, putting up career-best numbers all down his slash line. His 16 home runs in 18 June games was one of several 2021 highlights. As a result, several teams are interested in his services, including the Phillies, Marlins, and Red Sox, with whom he excelled after the trade deadline.
But Schwarber didn’t get here on his own; Kevin Long, then the Nationals hitting coach, worked with Schwarber last offseason. Long is now the Phillies’ hitting coach, which might give them an edge over other suitors.
If the Phillies can’t sign Schwarber after the lockout, there are other options. But Schwarber feels like a perfect fit for the Phillies, if they can be aggressive enough.