Kyle Schwarber is the All-Star who got away from Red Sox

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Tomase: Red Sox never should have parted with this All-Star slugger originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Of the three All-Stars the Red Sox wouldn't pay, only one of them bothers me.

It's not Andrew Benintendi, who wouldn't even be an American League selection if he played anywhere other than Kansas City. And it's not Mookie Betts, whose unquestioned greatness nonetheless did not make him the best long-term fit in Boston.

It's Kyle Schwarber.

When Chaim Bloom acquired Schwarber from the Nationals at last year's trade deadline, the move wasn't greeted with acclaim, inside or outside the clubhouse. Schwarber hadn't played in a month because of a serious hamstring injury, and he didn't fill a glaring hole at first base. There was no guarantee he'd return before September.

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Instead, he made it back on Aug. 13 and immediately transformed the lineup, bringing power and patience to the middle of the order, evening out a left-right imbalance, and establishing himself as a presence and leader.

The fact that he couldn't really play first base wasn't ideal, but Schwarber made the best of it and ultimately did far more good than bad. He hit .291 with seven homers in 41 games and then added three more homers in the playoffs.

When free agency began, the 29-year-old figured to command three or four years at $15-$20 million annually, a reasonable price for an All-Star who draws walks and hits for power. His fit on the Red Sox made perfect sense in both the short and long terms.

In 2022, he'd provide first base insurance if prospect Triston Casas wasn't ready, as well as the ability to play the outfield if Jackie Bradley Jr. didn't hit. In the long term, he could slide seamlessly into the DH role next year, since the contract of incumbent J.D. Martinez is expiring.

It's rare that windows align so perfectly, but the Red Sox never showed any real interest. Schwarber instead signed with the Phillies for four years and $79 million, and even if he's not hitting for average (.222), it's fair to say the Red Sox would take his 28 home runs. That total leads the National League and has helped Schwarber compile an .867 OPS. He's also on pace to reach 100 walks for the first time.

Add his presence -- he integrated into the Red Sox clubhouse faster in two months than most players do in five years -- and it was easy to see him playing an integral role in the bridge years between the Xander Bogaerts-Rafael-Devers-Martinez core and the Marcelo Mayer-Nick Yorke-Casas group on the horizon.

Instead, he's slugging homers for the playoff-positioned Phillies, and next week in Los Angeles, he'll represent them in the All-Star Game while the Red Sox try to figure out once again how to plug a leak at first base.

Benintendi underachieved here and the return of right-hander Josh Winckowski and outfielder Franchy Cordero may yet prove to be a win. Signing Betts for $350 million would've almost certainly cost the Red Sox Devers -- which may happen anyway -- and stifled Bloom's ability to start a rebuild.

But Schwarber? He was the perfect fit, and the Red Sox foolishly let him get away.