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