Is it time for the Yankees to extend Swisher?

Winter Meetings chat at 1 p.m.
Orioles add a power/strikeout bat in Reynolds
Swishalicious! (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

The Washington Nationals sent a bit of shock wave through the baseball community yesterday afternoon, announcing that they had signed outfielder Jayson Werth to a massive seven-year, $126M contract. Werth is undeniably a great player, but that contract is excessive. It (theoretically) set the market for Carl Crawford, and could have a trickle down effect on just about any upcoming free agent outfielder, such as one current Yankee.

Since coming to New York, Nick Swisher has posted the two of the best seasons of his career at 3.7 and 4.0 bWAR. He’s hit 58 homeruns in pinstripes, getting on base at a .365 clip with a .235 ISO. He also made his first All Star team, all for the bargain price of $12.05M ($5.3M in 2009, $6.75M in 2010). Swisher is due to become a free agent after the 2011 season, so I’m sure he and his agent are licking their chops are seeing Werth’s deal. Over the last two seasons, Werth has a .899 OPS, and Swisher’s is not to far off at .870.

To get an idea of what kind of contract Swisher could be in line to receive, we should dig up comparables. Using the great B-Ref Play Index to find players with similar production during their two seasons leading up to free agency (what have you done for me lately?), we get names like J.D. Drew, Bobby Abreu, Jason Bay, and Brian Giles. Drew signed with the Dodgers for five years and $55M. Abreu re-upped with the Phillies for 5/64, Bay got 4/66 from the Mets, and Giles got 3/30 from the Padres. The average of those four is ~4/54, or $13.5M per season. Swish generally lags a little bit behind those guys in HR, OPS+, and in some cases bWAR in the years before free agency, but at least we have an idea of what he could ask for. Frankly, $13.5M per year seems rather reasonable.

(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

The Case For Extending Swisher

Making a case to sign Swish to a contract extension is rather easy. He’s very productive (between 3.7 and 4.0 fWAR in four of the last five years), extremely durable (he’s been on the disabled list once in his six full seasons, and it came five years ago), and still in the prime of his career (he turned 30 less than two weeks ago). He’s also a fan favorite. The Yankees could end up saving themselves a few bucks by signing him now and avoiding the unpredictability of the open market as well.

The Case Against

While 2011 is the final guaranteed year on Swisher’s contract ($9M salary), the Yankees do hold a club option for 2012 worth $10.25M. They could choose to buy him out for a million bucks, but at this point in time it would be an upset if they went that route. So in reality Swisher is two years away from free agency, when he’ll be 32 and approaching his decline phase. While his stock is at an all-time high right now, it could be on the way down 24 months from now. Not extending Swisher now would also give the Yanks some semblance of roster flexibility going forward since his trade value is at an all-time high as well.

The Verdict

The Yankee policy is to not negotiate with players (not to mention field and front office staff as well) until their contracts expire, so this entire post is more academic than anything. But just for the sake of argument, let’s assume the Yanks would be up to giving their rightfielder an extension.

I’m in the camp that thinks they should wait this one out and let Swish play out the final two years of his contract before worrying about an extension, and I love the guy. Like I said, they’d maintain some roster flexibility, which is extremely important with so many massive contracts. It also eliminates a ton of risk since they wouldn’t be locked in for the next five years if he declines or something. The Yankees can afford to pay him when he becomes a free agent in two years if they want to, and that’s the route they should go. The financial advantage allows them to wait and pay people later rather than have to gamble and pay them now.

Winter Meetings chat at 1 p.m.
Orioles add a power/strikeout bat in Reynolds
  • teddy

    yanks don’t give extensions though

    • Sayid J.

      Yikes. Read the post next time.

  • Tim

    Swisher is being shopped.

    • Sweet Dick Willie


      • Do Not Feed The Trolls!

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  • Hughesus Christo

    I can’t imagine giving Nick Swisher 4/64 or something in two years. I just can’t do it. If he’s not coming discounted he has to go.

    • king of fruitless hypotheticals

      Soo…you won’t pay what his value is, you’ll only take him if he plays at a discount to his intrinsic worth?

      So you were against signing Mo, Jeter, etc?

      Who exactly WOULD you have signed in the last three years?

      Swisher (the first time) and…?

      • Hughesus Christo

        Is Nick Swisher playing at position of scarcity? Comps to Rivera/Jeter are ridiculous. I would give Granderson that kind of Money WAY before I gave it to a 32 year old Nick Swisher.

        I’m not giving semi-elite money to a good player in RF.

        • pete

          agreed. and I love swisher

        • king of fruitless hypotheticals

          You’re right. Those comps are absurd. It’s the philosophy I was attacking…you say you won’t pay value, I say that’s ridiculous.

          Not to mention Jeter’s bWAR last year was 1.6.
          (Mo’s was 1.6 in 60 innings so nobody needs to go check!)

          You ask if he’s playing at a position of scarcity…I don’t know. How many 4.0 WAR RF’s FA’s are there?

        • king of fruitless hypotheticals

          I’m not giving semi-elite money to a good player in RF.

          Forgot that one: you’re right. No reason to give a semi-elite RF semi-elite money.

          Swisher knows something you don’t know–he’s not left handed either.

  • nathan

    Swisher may play one or two more years with Yanks and be let go. He is not getting extended its very simple. There is no need for it. Better off taking the type A or B pick.

    Also — this might not be apples to oranges — as we saw with Derek, their performances can change on a dime and somehow Swisher does not scream consistent for me. Maybe I am too hung up on his CHW and later OAK days.

    • Matt Imbrogno

      What is inconsistent about Swisher? Aside from 2008, he’s had and OPS+ of at least 101 in every full season he’s played. Also, in every full season he’s had an IsoP of at least .191 (even ’08). In four of his six full pro seasons, he’s had a wOBA of at least .361. Swish is most definitely consistent.

    • Robin

      I agree these boys make to much money

  • Tripp

    Yeah, I’m sure the Yankees would much rather allow him to finish out his contract and then offer arbitration. That locks up a type A (assuming) draft pick. And if he accepts then you have a playing that’s still young for 1 year at a salary a little over 10 million.

    • Hughesus Christo

      There is no way Nick Swisher is getting that kind of salary in arbitration (or accepting). I’m telling you, ~16+ AAV. Werth is better, but not 8 million per better. And this will be two years from now.

      • Ed

        Dead on there.

      • pete

        i agree, but I still don’t think he would accept arb at age 32.

  • Accent Shallow

    Maintaining roster flexibility is great, but who in the minors could we expect to be ready for 2013? Granted, that’s two seasons away, but it’s not like Tampa and Trenton are brimming with future MLB outfielders . . . Dan Brewer? Melky Mesa? DeAngelo Mack? Slade Heathcott?

    Those guys are all a ways away. The system has great pitching, but is light on impact bats (non-Montero division)

    • Monteroisdinero

      This was my argument for going after Crawford. We have little in the pipeline in the OF. Suck it up and pay little cc.

      What is the deal with Swisher’s knee?

      I like Swish-great guy but I’d DH him especially when Posada goes.

      • bexarama
        • Monteroisdinero

          I was hoping for a show tune :-)

      • Accent Shallow

        a) who the hell plays RF?
        b) Swisher is a perfectly capable OF, no need to DH him
        c) one of those guys could develop, or you make a trade. Crawford isn’t a necessity now, if Swisher isn’t walking until after 2012 at the earliest. They have plenty of time to extend him or pay an FA alternative, if no one develops/nothing attractive is on the trade market

        • Monteroisdinero

          a) Gardner
          b) True but we can do better with a Crawford/Grandy/Gardy OF
          c) Crawford isn’t a necessity now, but he is available now and won’t be in 2012

          I’m worried Cliff is gonna stay in Texas and will be very bummed if Crawford signs with the RSux.

      • JobaWockeeZ

        Swish has plus range. He just has a bad arm. He’s fine.

  • YankeesJunkie

    Swisher has shown that he is 4 WAR player at his best which is great considering the team friendly contract he. However, in this situation it would be best for the Yankees to play out his final two years and then get the two draft picks for him as he will most likely be a Type A free agent in as well.

    • king of fruitless hypotheticals

      4 WAR at $3.5MM is $14MM. He’s been undervalued, and if he keeps this up, he’ll be undervalued for two more years. If we presume he is in decline when he resigns, lets say 3 WAR, $10.5MM would be very accurate–I think we’d only be bidding against the supply of OF’s on the market (and ourselves of course).

      If there is no market for ‘aging outfielders’ why wouldn’t we resign him at his current market value?

      If there is a GREAT market for ‘aging outfielders’ why wouldn’t we overpay because we’d be in the same screwed position as the other teams?

  • CountryClub

    I agree, wait until after 2012.

  • Matt Imbrogno

    I love Swish, but wait it out (as always). We have no idea what the roster construction will look like at the end of his deal and he may not be necessary (or productive, though that’s doubtful) to the team at a market price. Thank him for a job well done, offer him arbitration, collect the picks, move on.

  • JGS

    Wait it out. If someone wants to give him a 7/120 deal after his age 31 season, they can have him.

    • Accent Shallow


      Maybe he’s able to hit .300 while maintaining his walk rate of earlier years, without sacrificing power, in which case he’d be worth 7/120.

      Of course, I don’t think he’s able to do that.

  • ADam

    Wait it out… definitely… money wont be the Issue 2 years from now… it will be years…

  • king of fruitless hypotheticals

    i’m so confused–everyone is saying not to sign him because he knows what he’ll be like at age 32…you do realize we just signed a 45 year old Jeter, a 50 year old Mo and a 74 year old Arod right? What about Andy Pettitte? We don’t want him cause he’s not 28?

    The logic of not signing him for $16 (most likely discounted because it would be an extension, not an FA signing, so he’d get to add stability plus 2 years worth of raises now) to play a cost controlled farm product is great–and so is the question of ‘who is this mystery farm product?’

    SOMEBODY has to play that position–you want to get get Melky Cabrera? He’ll be on the market in two years (still). If you just object to spending more than $13MM for an OF, fine–but all this ‘he’s not worth it’ and ‘he’s inconsistent’ is, to coin a phrase, baffling.

    • mac1

      I don’t think you can worry about needing to find a RF’er in 2013. To start extending Swisher at the $ you are talking about is a big risk not worth taking – you can always find power at that position and you may want to use that slot to get younger and more athletic.

  • John Maddon

    There is a good chance the outfield will look very different by 2013, with all young players under team control til around that period of time or shortly after. The yankees will need to see if Granderson and Gardner can continue to show what they have shown and also if there is any talent developing that can replace an OF spot. Heathcott and other solid OF prospects seem to be in A+ or lower. Very difficult to project.

  • Monteroisdinero

    This will all be moot when Greg Golson….

    aw-forget it

    • Fair Weather Freddy

      You meant to say Slade Heathcott

  • Johnny O (no alias)

    Love me some Swish. But two things: 1. his value is *likely* at its peak; and 2. the Werth deal is ludicrous and I would not want to go to the negotiating table with that as the most recent comp.

    Happy to have Swish for the next 2 years at <$20M. If they were a different team who had trouble competing in free agency, then I could see an extension (ignoring the team policy) making sense. But not for the Yankees.

    Plus, isn't Melky Mesa going to be ready by 2013? I kid….

  • Do Not Feed The Trolls!

    Hes not going to age well defensively so definitely no extension.

  • Andy

    Consider the following two players, with their triple slash for last year and career, with OPS in parenthesis:

    Player A: .288/.359/.511 (.870); .252/.358/.469 (.827)
    Player B: .272/.395/.438 (.833); .245/.378/.452 (.830)

    Player A is Swisher. Player B the recently non-tendered Jack Cust.

    Food for thought….

    • Matt Imbrogno

      The fact that Cust absolutely cannot play defense completely kills his value. Swisher is a good defender in RF.

  • Monteroisdinero

    Swish will be a big name if…

    we don’t sign Lee

  • BigLou

    KEEP SWISHER! Can’t you guys recognize a real Yankee…a smiling talkative fun Jeter-type who has greatly improved himself in the OF and become a dangerous clutch hitter in the regular season. Here’s a guy you sit back and respect when he comes up with RISP and he regularly delivers. Swisher can be the heart of the Yankee offense…he’s not carrying A-Rods baggage or fucking his brains out in the off season. He carried Tex last spring. What does a guy have to do to be accepted by this jury as a real Yankee?

    • Benjamin Kabak

      he’s not carrying A-Rods baggage or fucking his brains out in the off season

      If he’s not, then there’s something wrong with him. Swisher’s fiance please:

    • Charlie

      BigLou time to turn in your rose colored glasses my friend! Hello!!! This is the amazing 2 brain celled bimbo we’re talking about here! That 1,000 yard vacant grin,seeing the porch light is on but no one’s home, or better yet, “the lights are flashing, the bar is down, but the train ain’t coming.” He’s a disaster waiting to happen. Ship him off while the Yanks can get something of value in return! But you’re probably so “yankee blinded” that you call them “WE not THEY.” Of course, if you are a stockholder, player, manager blah blah blah i apologize otherwise don’t be a homer! I love my Yanks have for going on 60 years so I’m not a Johnny come lately here. I suffered through late 60’s and early 70’s, and the 80’s and 90’s. I’ve love them through thick and thin. Bottom line now is NOT the time to fall in love with a Gomer Pile acting average player who hasn’t a clue. OK i’m done. Go Yanks 2011 is on the way and so are we!!

  • kosmo

    Swisher has been a real asset .In 2012 he´ll be playing for a new contract,let´s see then what kind of numbers he´s putting up at the ripe old age of 32.

    • kosmo

      And need I say his fiance has a couple of assets as well…

    • Charlie

      Kosmo what planet are yo from? Swish has been a lot of asset perhaps in his ability to hit one out of the park on occasion (aka see Mr. Team NON-Player Posada aka what a joke), but his defense like Posadas is a complete joke and there’s nothing he can do offensively that will ever come close to compensating for his flagrant defensive inabilities. Aka, see Jose Canseco. Dump him quick, dump him hard, get what you can and run run run!

  • Neil

    Werth’s contract is that high due to the Washington factor. He’s overpaid by 3-5 million per year due to the fact nobody really wants to play there while they suck that bad. It should not skew the market for outfielders.

  • virginia yankee

    maybe trade him and or some package with gardner for UPTON -D’BACKS

    a little front office creativity is needed– forget Crawford and Lee — age and injury are in their futures – immediate futures unfortunately — Crawford might improve his offense in Yankee Stadium and surrounded with a lineup that could demand more patience — butt still UPTON has tremendous upside and youth

    — use the AAA and AA system to grow their own – the references to the plan not working in 2008 was the failure to provide ACE #1 leadership as protection for Hughes IPK and Joba = with CC and a year or 2 of Andy, maturing of Hughes the protection is there — Yogi would say 100% of pitching is 90% mental — if the kids have the tools — surround with able team provide confidence and some patience

    — do not chase Crawford or Lee at rising prices unless AA and AAA are bare or 2-3 years away.

    • Monteroisdinero

      OF is bare at AAA. Golson/Curtis were best we had last year. Russo played LF for us last year!

  • Steve

    Trade him and sign Crawford and put Granderson in RF, Gardner in CF, and Crawford in LF. Best outfield in baseball. Swisher is replaceable. He aint nothing special

  • virginia yankee

    Understand the dearth of position players inn minors — part of the love for Montero may be because there is little else — BTW trade him if he can’t play C or OF for equal value before the league finds out

    I love Swisher everything about him but his age — I wanted Gardner 3 years ago instead of Melky — so advocating trading either or both is not solely a recognition that I see no upside but the concern is that they are aging right behind Posada, Jeter, ARod, Tex, Swish, Granderson will crest simultaneously — the team can’t get young all at once — It can’t move ARod and Jeter; does not need to move Cano, Tex; C, LF, RF are places where they need to get yound and good now, so that these “new” guys can cary ARod, Jeter, and then Tex into their planned dotage.

    LEE was not good against SF — if he stays injury free he can reduce work on BP but he CC, Burnett will age simultaneously as well and TOO MANY will be locked into contracts that can’t be moved.

    Stop the insanity now — the market is nearly forcing this alternative. I would trade Gardner before Swisher — the average before the wrist was a fluke aided by speed the slash and run like hell is not productive — perhaps long can change his swing and approach but he is always going to be injury prone, it is the nature of his play (I do not fault his gamer approach) — but he can’t carry the position; Crawford is not much of an upgrade but what there is lies in the HR power. This is why I advocate UPTON,

  • gmrich

    I think some of you have it right, I don’t think signing Lee to a long term contract is the right thing to do, the Yanks should work on developing it’s own talent, I think Gardner will be a better player than Carl Crawford if his health is good, he stole 50 bases last year, he can drive the other team nuts when on base, and Swisher, I like him, but I would trade him and get some young players in return, then trade Granderson and get more young players, I don’t think Granderson is that good a player, to me I would take Brett Gardner over Granderson, then see if Cashman can work some magic and get Justin Upton from Arizona, also I think the Yanks should give either Andrew Brackman, or Ivan Nova a shot as the 5th starter, I think we have to see if we have good pitchers in our system, then the Yankees will not have to over spend to bring in talent to play for them, just give the kids a shot, I think we will be surprised at what we have.

  • Dave

    I’m laughing at the notion that Swisher is a ‘plus’ defender. Has anyone ever watched his routes on semi-liners to RC? Don’t quote me his error totals. Watch the guy play! I give him credit for working rigorously in the 2009-10 offseason and dropping some poundage. But people that view him as an above-average defender also take for granted that he’ll continue with that same rigorous boxing training. It’s more realistic to expect a bit of regression toward the mean.

    • FIPster Doofus

      His defense isn’t great, but it isn’t a problem either.

      • Dave

        Kinda echoes my point. I ridiculed the notion that he’s a plus defender. Pointed out that he was in a LOT better shape last season which brought his defense from crap to palatable. But I wouldn’t want to depend on the once-in-a-lifetime offseason regimen he had to get him there. In ’09, there were a couple of instances when he actually jumped up while camped under a can-of-corn to catch a fly ball. I guess my point is that 2010 (in my opinion) will have been the best defensive year of his career. And 2010 was mediocre or average. Best you can get from him. (note: i am only addressing his defensive capabilities with respect to the proposition to extending his contract now. My position being that his D would not be in the “pro” column, but rather “con”).

  • Mr. Jones

    Swish was great in the regular season but still presses in the post season. He’s going to have to play like a man in the playoffs like Robbie proved he could do this year. Then I’m down with signing Swish for the long term. (for under $12 million per season of course)

  • Charlie

    Swish is a joke. Dump him do whatever it takes just dump him. Stand him up, polish him nice and shiny, and trade him for whatever you can get out of him then run laughing all the way to the bank. His baseball IQ is ZERO. he’s more interested in bowing down to the right field fans then he is playing the position. The Yanks have lucked out the last two years as his usual idiotic mistakes haven’t hurt them that bad, but the time is coming and it could be at a critical moment. Dump the idiot and run run run!!!!

    • Sayid J.

      You sir, have won this round.

      • mikesanto

        Swisher is not a good defender and he is hot and cold with the bat. In other words he is streaky. Plus the fact his playoff performance the last 2 years has been awful.

  • Trish

    Having followed Swish since his Oakland days–friend of a friend deal–let me offer some ideas:

    As far as his skills go, I know people don’t take BA seriously around here, but if you look at his lifetime numbers you’ll see that he’s pretty consistent in all areas except for BA. His BA rose over forty points from last year but he had the same number of homers and only seven more RBIs. Even in his crappy year with Chicago he got 24 HR/69 RBI–and he batted .219. Go figure. For fielding, he’s gone from craptastic to average. He makes throws now he could only dream of in Oakland so if you think he’s bad now you should have seen him then.

    But what many people talk about here–his personality–at once helps him and hinders him. He loves attention. He loves his Bleacher Creatures and his Twitter followers because they are constantly telling him how awesome he is. He thrives on that. One of the biggest reasons he failed so spectacularly in Chicago is that the White Sox and their fans didn’t put up with that. They thought he was a showboat and said so publicly, and that made him sulk and play like crap. Yankee fans aren’t used to players who play up to them which is why so many love him. He’s on the biggest stage in baseball now and he’s loving every second of it. He wouldn’t be about to marry a sitcom actress and get written up in People if he was still an Oakland A.

    But trade him? The team who gets him is going to see the 2008 LIFE SUCKS Swish, not the 2010 LIFE IS AWESOME Swish. Somehow I think the Yankees know that …