Sport: Schwarber was a Franchise Altering Signing for Phillies

What Phillies manager Rob Thomson says he has learned in the aftermath of controversial World Series pitching decision

  What Phillies manager Rob Thomson says he has learned in the aftermath of controversial World Series pitching decision It rained last Friday in Sebringville, Ontario, but that was OK. Rob Thomson didn’t have big plans anyway. Under the slightest of different circumstances — two more wins for the Phillies instead of the Houston Astros — there may have been a parade through the center of town. Thomson lives there, roughly 100 miles west of downtown Toronto. Five months ago, he became the first native Canadian since 1934 to be a full-time manager of a major league team. Imagine if he had become the first to manage a World Series champion.

The Philadelphia Phillies' most influential acquisition of the 2022 offseason, and perhaps of this current era of Phillies baseball, was Kyle Schwarber.

On March 20 of 2022, the Philadelphia Phillies announced that they had signed left-handed slugger, Kyle Schwarber, to a four-year, $79 million deal: a deal that would have more impact than the franchise could ever imagine.

To that point, Schwarber's major league journey was a peculiar one. He burst onto the scene with the Chicago Cubs in 2015, immediately providing a powerful impact. He slugged in excess of a .465 clip in each of his first four full seasons in Chicago, and topped out at a whopping 38 home runs in a spectacular 2019 season. The young power bat was lauded for his leadership, and headed to the playoffs in each and every one of his first four years in the majors.

What Phillies manager Rob Thomson has learned in the aftermath of controversial World Series pitching decision

  What Phillies manager Rob Thomson has learned in the aftermath of controversial World Series pitching decision It rained last Friday in Sebringville, Ontario, but that was OK. Rob Thomson didn’t have big plans anyway. Under the slightest of different circumstances — two more wins for the Phillies instead of the Houston Astros — there may have been a parade through the center of town. Thomson lives there, roughly 100 miles west of downtown Toronto. Five months ago, he became the first native Canadian since 1934 to be a full-time manager of a major league team. Imagine if he had become the first to manage a World Series champion.

Yet, during the shortened 2020 season, Schwarber's offensive production took a dive, and, just as they cut ties with the majority of the once-young core, the Cubs decided to non-tender the powerful lefty, who was 365 days removed from a career year.

But Schwarber quickly rebounded in 2021, landing a deal with the Washington Nationals, and slugged his way to a trade to the Boston Red Sox. There he would once again reach the postseason, officially earning himself the title of a "proven winner" as future teammate Bryce Harper would soon dub him.

And so, the 2022 offseason reared its head. Schwarber, who was coming off of a spectacular .266/.374/.554 slash alongside 32 home runs, was a popular name on the open market.

Schwarber looks on from the on-deck circle during his brief time with the Boston Red Sox. © Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports © Provided by Inside The Phillies on FanNation Schwarber looks on from the on-deck circle during his brief time with the Boston Red Sox. © Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

But the Philadelphia Phillies needed Kyle Schwarber more than they would ever know.

Thoughts on the Phillies’ pitching search, with four targets who could offer some value

  Thoughts on the Phillies’ pitching search, with four targets who could offer some value Years ago, a former member of the Phillies’ front office was asked whether a certain pitcher could be a viable rotation piece. The longtime baseball man wrinkled his face and shook his head. “Not in this ballpark,” he said. As the Phillies evaluate this year’s crop of free agents and trade candidates in their annual attempt to cobble together a functional rotation and bullpen staff, it is impossible to separate the pitcher from the home stadium. This is true across baseball, to varying degrees. In few places is it as central a variable as it is at Citizens Bank Park. Every offseason forces the Phillies to confront a paradox.

Off the field, the team's directionless clubhouse with an out-of-touch manager at the helm craved a strong leader.

On the field, the team had struggled to pin down a leadoff hitter for more than half of a decade.

Schwarber filled both gaping voids with ease.

He, alongside team sparkplug Garrett Stubbs, created one of the most fun, relaxed clubhouse environments Philadelphia has ever seen.

It also didn't hurt that he turned in 46 home runs on the season, 38 of which came from the one-hole, single-handedly turning the Phillies' lineup into a grindy, power-prone juggernaut.

Sure, it was only his first season with the club, but Schwarber's impact was monumental on what would eventually be the team's most accomplished season in nearly 15 years.

And now, the team has the 29-year-old locked up through the remainder of his prime.

Schwarber, who led the National League in home runs in 2022, may very well be in play to lead all of baseball in long balls at some point during his remaining tenure in Philadelphia. He is entering his age-30 season, and will be far less afraid to pull the baseball now with the banning of the shift in 2023. There's no reason not to think that, within the next three seasons, the dynamic slugger won't top 50, or perhaps even 60 home runs in a single season.

Trading Rhys Hoskins, Phillies World Series goat (not really), would be dumb

  Trading Rhys Hoskins, Phillies World Series goat (not really), would be dumb A Phillies slugger committed 51 errors in his first six seasons playing first base in the majors. He also hit 148 home runs in his first 2,887 plate appearances. A different Phillies slugger committed 32 errors in his first six seasons playing first base. He also hit 148 home runs in his first 2,887 plate appearances. The first slugger was Jim Thome. The second slugger is Rhys Hoskins. This matters in this moment because most of Philadelphia would be delighted to see Hoskins run out of town. They’d like ol’ Hoss to get traded for something like a mid-level starting pitcher who’d go .500 with a 4.50 ERA for the next two or three seasons.

One thing that can safely be predicted however is that, for as long as he wears a Phillies uniform, Kyle Schwarber will be the de facto leader in the Phillies clubhouse, something his team desperately needed.

Phillies Manager Rob Thomson said it best; after the team trumped the Astros to end Major League Baseball's longest playoff drought, he said, "I think [Kyle] is the best clubhouse presence I've ever been around."

When a guy who's been in the game of baseball for as long as you've been alive is giving you that kind of compliment, you're something right.

It just so happened that, in his first year in a Phillies uniform, Kyle Schwarber did everything right.

More From SI's Inside The Phillies:

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  2. How Mike Trout Will Join the Phillies
  3. Could Bryce Harper's Favorite MLB Player Join the Philadelphia Phillies Next Season?
  4. Why You Should Root for the Philadelphia Phillies to Lose a Few Games
  5. Phillies Release 2023 Regular Season Schedule
  6. Have the Philadelphia Phillies Found Their Centerfielder of the Future?
  7. Could The Phillies Soon Be Playing in Wawa Park?
  8. How did Philadelphia end up with Citizens Bank Park?
  9. How the Phillie Phanatic Came to be America's Favorite Sports Mascot
  10. Picking the Phillies' All-Time Single Season Lineup

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Eagles center Jason Kelce set to break 60-year franchise record .
Eagles All-Pro center Jason Kelce is set to break a 60-year franchise record when he steps onto the field in Sunday night's game against the Green Bay Packers. © Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce. Kelce will play in his 170th game for the Eagles. This will break Hall of Famer Chuck Bednarik's record for most regular-season games played by an offensive lineman in the team's proud history. It's safe to say Kelce has been Mr. Reliable for the Eagles. Sunday night's game will also be his 133th consecutive start for the Eagles.

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