Kyle Schwarber has fond memories of his time on the North Side. He spent six seasons with the Cubs, who drafted him fourth overall in 2014, making five postseason appearances that includes a World Series title.
But upon entering the free agent market last month, the longtime Cubs slugger realized the Nationals were a good fit for him.
“This was the No. 1 place on my list to be, was Washington,” Schwarber told reporters Saturday after his free agent deal with the Nationals became official. “Knowing that I could go out there and make an impact with these guys, play the field, and I think that was a really good thing here.”
Schwarber’s one-year deal with Washington became official on Saturday, reuniting him with former Cubs bench coach and current Nationals manager Davey Martinez. It’s worth $10 million, according to reports, and carries a 2022 option.
The Cubs non-tendered Schwarber last month, ahead of his final year of club control. He and the club left the door open for a possible reunion, and he told reporters Saturday the Yankees also checked in early in his free agency.
However, once the Nationals expressed interest, he knew it was something he wanted to pursue, citing his relationship with Martinez as a key factor in his decision. The two worked closely in Chicago after Schwarber moved to the outfield in 2015.
“I love him to death. I’m so excited to be playing for this guy,” Schwarber said. “He’s a baseball guy. He cares about his players. He loves winning. He only wants to win.
“I think we all saw how much he’s going to fight for his players and fight for a win at the end of the day in the ’19 World Series, freshly off that [September 2019 heart procedure] he had in getting thrown out [in Game 6].”
Schwarber recalled a time during Martinez’ two seasons with the Cubs where he predicted the outfielder would play for him whenever he became a manager: “And you know what, now it’s come to fruition,” Schwarber said.
Schwarber added being non-tendered isn’t how he wanted his Cubs tenure to end but Chicago will always be a “special place” in his heart, especially because of what they accomplished in 2016.
“They did all the hard work, and I was just able to come in at the right time and try to help these guys win a World Series,” he said of his former teammates. “I think we’re all going to be brothers from that day on. I can’t say enough to the organization, to the fans.”
However, he's now ready to begin a new chapter in his career and is looking forward to his opportunity with Washington.
"I’m ready to make another playoff push. All I’ve done in my whole career is win," he said. "I think this is a group that can make a really good push and go really far and hopefully [win] another World Series."