What it means to make a player ‘available’


Earlier this afternoon, Bob Nightengale of USA Today unleashed a panic amongst the members of the Yankee Universe. “The Yankees,” he Tweeted, “ever so quietly, are letting teams know that RF Nick Swisher is available.”

Nick Swisher! Available! Oh no! With just 87 characters, Nightengale created an uproar. Our inboxes started filling up with e-mails from RAB readers wondering if this rumor had any merit to it while Ben Nicholson-Smith at MLBTR wrote it up. Would the Yankees, already down a left fielder and a designated hitter, dare sell off Nick Swisher this off-season as well?

Of course, Swisher isn’t for sale, but debunking this rumor and contextualizing it isn’t that simple. It never is, and with the advent of the Internet, parsing rumors has grown more difficult. Let’s take this one for a ride though.

First, we must consider the source. Nightengale, a long-time vet of the Gannett daily, has a penchant rivaling that of Jon Heyman for conflating interest with a definite rumor. Here, he is taking a tidbit that isn’t quite news and spinning it into a secretive, hey-look-at-what-the-Yankees-are-doing item. That’s a clear warning sign that something is amiss.

Next, we must consider the nature of the rumor. What exactly are the Yankees doing? Well, they’re supposedly letting teams know that Nick Swisher can be had for a price. Is that news? I don’t think it is. Swisher is coming off of a rebound year in which he put up a 30.9 VORP. He is due $6.75 million in 2010 and $9 million in 2011, making him one of the more tradeable veterans on the Yanks. Of course, the team will solicit offers for him.

And that brings me to my next point. Third, we must consider what it means to be “available.” When a player is made available, it does not betray any interest on the Yanks’ part to see him shipped away. Rather, when a player is “available,” the Yankees expect other teams to put forward what they feel are reasonable proposals for this player. Without any insider knowledge, in fact, I believe this is how the Yankees acquired Swisher last year. The White Sox made him available; the Yankees made a low ball offer; Kenny Williams accepted; and the rest is history.

Beyond Swisher, though, the Yankees — and 29 other teams — generally make everyone available. Why not? Sometimes, a great trade comes along when teams aren’t actively shopping the player but when other teams know that potential trading partners are open to the idea of a trade. As far as the Yanks are concerned, the only players on the team who are not or should not be available include Derek Jeter, A-Rod, Mark Teixiera, CC Sabathia, Mariano Rivera, Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and Jesus Montero. Maybe we could add Jorge Posada and A.J. Burnett to make it a Gang of 10, but for the right price, anyone is tradeable.

In the end, this rumor isn’t about the Yanks’ faith or potential lack thereof in Nick Swisher. It’s not about their plans to leave themselves with a projected Opening Day outfield of Brett Gardner, Melky Cabrera and Austin Jackson. It’s about exploring options and not closing the door on a move that has the potential to make the team better. Odds are good that Nick Swisher will be in right field in April, but if he isn’t, then it’s because his departure made the team better. And that’s what it means to be available.

Categories : Hot Stove League


  1. Moshe Mandel says:

    The Yankees may or may not also be interested in middle relievers.


    It really is ridiculous- twitter has made all writers irresponsible. They no longer need to write up a full article with sources, they can just throw it out on Twitter and defend it as requiring a lower standard.

  2. Free Mike Vick says:

    OMG….what will the nerds do???

    Sitting in their Garden Apartments with no Nick Swisher blow up dolls???

  3. A.D. says:

    It’s not about their plans to leave themselves with a projected Opening Day outfield of Brett Gardner, Melky Cabrera and Austin Jackson.

    But they want to get young!!!!

    In all seriousness, thank you for this post, too many times people see “is available” and take it as “is being shopped heavily/is going to be moved”

    Dombrowski came out talking about the Tigers rumors saying its not a fire sale, and they’re only making good baseball moves. So yeah Granderson and Jackson might be available, but they don’t need to go anywhere.

  4. Rose says:

    But if they’re currently looking to fill RF (or CF) and the DH spot…it doesn’t make sense to field offers for the one spot in the outfield that’s seemingly a lock down. I mean, you can field offers for whoever and whenever you want…but there are more important things to address…it could be a complete waste of time in most aspects.

  5. crawdaddie says:

    I don’t think the Yankees will trade them, but I’m not so sure Joba or Hughes are untouchables like those other guys.

    • Tom Zig says:

      Well yeah, if Jack Zduriencik called and said “hey Brian I’ll give you Felix for Joba or Hughes, straight up” I think the untouchable status would go away.


      • Ed says:

        Right, but that applies to (almost?) everyone on the team as well.

        Don’t you think Cashman would trade, say, 40 year old Mo for 24 year old Felix if he was offered that straight up?

        Jeter’s probably the most untouchable, as his value off the field is insane compared to just about anyone else in the game.

        • Don’t you think Cashman would trade, say, 40 year old Mo for 24 year old Felix if he was offered that straight up?

          Cashman wouldn’t be able to say “Yes” fast enough.

          Jack Zduriencik: Brian, I’ll give you Felix for Mari–
          Brian Cashman: DEAL!

    • pete says:

      sure, but the likelihood of a trade involving either of those guys that both sides like enough to go through with is slim to nil

  6. JSquared says:

    A player is always tradeable, unless they’re irreplaceable like Jeter or Rivera. I don’t see the yankees trading an outfielder… unless it’s for something really good, especially when there are guys like Marlon Byrd and Mike Cameron available through free agency.

  7. nolan says:

    I don’t want to see Swish go… I love that he’s a yankee. But, if the Yanks can sell high on a player they bought low on and get a solid return (maybe a good prospect or two that can be used to trade for Halladay or another good starter) they can always replace Swisher with Holliday.

    That being said …I’d rather Cash just sign Holliday and keep Swish

  8. Ed says:

    Nice writeup Ben, puts a good perspective on it. While MLBTR is great at collecting information, they can be sensationalist sometimes. And the comments there are full over overreactions to the slightest tidbits of information.

    • andrew says:

      I don’t really blame MLBTR, they reported it as they received it. Swisher was made available. I think Ben’s post does a good job of explaining that it is our job as fans to understand what that means instead of freaking out.

      • Ed says:

        MLBTR didn’t really do anything wrong on this on, but it is common for them to embellish a little. And they certainly don’t do anything to discourage the readers from overreacting.

  9. Steve H says:

    Nick Swisher doesn’t get put on the trade block, the trade block gets put on Nick Swisher.

  10. CountryClub says:

    Good post, Ben.

  11. Marsha says:

    No trading of Swisher allowed. I haven’t gotten my #33 Swisher shirt for Chanukah yet.

  12. JobaWockeeZ says:

    Fat chance Swisher leaves.

  13. V says:

    The only chance Swisher is dealt is if some dumb GM offered way too much.

    “Hey, Brian, this is Frank Wren of the Braves. You know that young outfielder we have, Jason Heyward? We’d like to trade him for Nick Swisher. Whaddya say?”

  14. Steve H says:

    Fat Sanchez chance Swisher leaves.

    We can just replace Fat with Sanchez these days right?

  15. t says:

    Is every player is made available regardless of whether he is being shopped around or not why wasn’t there an article on say A rod being made available?

    Also quick question if anyone could answer, what mlb player is AJax projected to play like? Is he likely to be a 275/350 plyaer?

    • Steve H says:

      I think best case is Mike Cameron if he develops power.

    • A.D. says:

      Willy Mays Hays type?

    • Evil Empire says:

      Bullshit trade speculation by sports journalist is an art, and you can’t just say things like “A-Rod is available”, because common sense would indicate to all readers that no team would actually be interested in his mammoth contract, and it would damage your credibility in the media. You need to make reasonable claims about guys like Nick Swisher, who has a palatable contract and doesn’t have a NTC.

      There are different levels of “availability”. Albert Pujols or Joe Mauer are “available” in the sense that (and I am ripping this straight out of a Keith Law chat, its totally his example), if the SF Giants were willing to trade away Lincecum, Sandoval, and Posey to get one of them, a deal could happen. But that won’t happen, so no one will write about it.

      A deal for the Yankees #8 hitter though? Yeah, its a way more conceivable idea, and but still kind of sensational just because its the Yankees.

  16. Evil Empire says:

    Even if the Yankees did trade away Swisher (itself rather doubtful), I’d only take that a clear sign that they’re looking to replace him with Matt Holliday or something like that.

    The Yankees would never allow an opening day outfield as shitty as Cabrera-Gardner-AJax. Its unfathomable, and as such, the thought does not concern me. I cannot think of any scenario where that would happen. They’d sooner sign Damon to a 3 year deal (something almost equally ridiculous and unfathomable).

  17. I think the idea that any prospects are untradeable is pretty ridiculous. I mean, Montero is probably about as close to it as it gets, but completely untouchable? If St. Louis called tomorrow and said “hey Cash, we don’t think we’ve got the money to keep Pujols in town, he’s all yours so long as we can have Montero” would you really want Cash to hang up on them?

    • If St. Louis called tomorrow and said “hey Cash, we don’t think we’ve got the money to keep Pujols in town, he’s all yours so long as we can have Montero” would you really want Cash to hang up on them?

      I’ll address here even though it’s come up a few times in this trade. When I say he’s untouchable, there is an element of reality to it. Do you know what isn’t going to happen? John Mozeliak’s calling Cashman to make that trade offer.

      Obviously, if something that epically stupid come across Cashman’s desk, he would accept it. But for all practical purposes, Montero is untouchable. Strawmen need not apply.

      • Well the exact situation might not apply, but I think it does in a general sense. If Seattle makes King Felix available next season, is Montero on the table? What if Minnesota decides they have no chance of keeping Mauer in town past this year, and decide to take a crack at seeing if they can’t replace him with Montero? Not that those scenarios absolutely will happen, of course, but they seem plausible enough.

        Anyway, my larger point, which I definitely didn’t convey well, is that I just don’t like the idea of “untouchable” prospects, as it seems to contribute to the larger phenomenon of completely overvaluing prospects.

  18. [...] Confidence Poll « What it means to make a player ‘available’ Nov [...]

  19. John NY says:

    When I first saw the post on MLBTR, I immediately dismissed it as hearsay. Media headlines are very competitive for readership so no surprise this was a play for a headline.

    Want a headline?……The Yanks are interested in (fill in a available player). That makes a lot of people interested to read on!

  20. [...] Ben of RAB fame debunks Nightengale’s tweet about as effectively as one could, the remark itself is still somewhat [...]

  21. [...] the Yanks’ reportedly making Nick Swisher available took the Internet by storm, and we debunked and contextualized it. Late last night, one of George A. King III’s Yankee sources denied the rumor and said that [...]

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