Oct
13

Whether you like it not, picking up Swisher’s option is the right move

By

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

The Yankees have three club option decisions to make this offseason, and two are painfully obvious. Robinson Cano‘s $14M option will be picked up while Damaso Marte‘s $4M option will not. That’s the easy part. The third decision may not be so cut and dry, but that’s entirely based on fan perception. Some people like Nick Swisher, who can be retained for $10.25M next season, and some people don’t. It works like that for literally every player. However, because of Swisher’s third consecutive awful postseason in pinstripes, there’s some belief that the Yankees would be better off parting ways with their right fielder of the last three years.

I’m not here to debate Swisher’s merits, but rather explain that no matter what side of the argument you fall on (like him or hate him), the obvious move is to exercise the option. Let’s break it down…

If You Like Him

This will be short and easy. Swisher’s incredibly productive (.358+ wOBA in five of the last six years, never fewer than 21 HR) and also incredibly durable (150+ games played in each of the last six seasons). By no means is his defense great, but it’s better than he gets credit for. His range-heavy +2.8 UZR over the last three seasons is a tick above-average and basically middle of the pack among all right fielders. Well-above-average offense and average defense plus durability equals a really valuable player, especially on a one-year deal that would pay him less than he’d get on the open market.

If You Don’t Like Him

I honestly don’t care why anyone dislikes any player, we all have our reasons. Could be his personality, could be the playoff performance, could be the batting average, doesn’t matter to me. Even if you think they should get rid of Swisher, the reason you pick up the option is so you can trade him. He still has value, quite a bit of it, and they shouldn’t just give that away (for two draft picks, which are worth something but not a ton) because of the ALDS. The Yankees pulled this exact trick with Gary Sheffield after the 2006 season, shipping him the Tigers for three minor league arms.

What could the Yankees get for Swisher? Who knows. The best comparable I can come up with is Josh Willingham, another bat-first corner outfielder that was traded one year before free agency. The Nationals received a Triple-A ready center fielder (Corey Brown) and a big league ready reliever (Henry Rodriguez) in the trade, two guys that Baseball America ranked as the 12th and 13th best prospects in Oakland’s system before the season. Decent return, nice deal for a rebuilding team.

Sheffield and Matt Holliday also fit the “corner outfielder traded one year before free agency mold,” but Sheffield was old and broken down at the time of the trade and Holliday is just straight up better than Swisher. They aren’t great comparisons. Neither is David DeJesus, who fits the narrative but is an inferior player to Swisher. Willingham seems to be the best fit. Two Grade-B prospects are better than two draft picks, which is why the Yankees should pick up the option and trade him rather than just decline the option if they don’t want him around.

* * *

Remember, it’s a $10.25M option with a $1M buyout, so the net value is just $9.25M. You all know what I think; the Yankees should just keep Swisher because they’re not going to beat his production at that price (in terms of dollars and years). If you think they should go separate ways though, at least recognize that they’d be better off exercising the option and trading him rather than outright declining it.

Categories : Hot Stove League
  • Tom T

    Are there really people who don’t want to pick up the option?

    • gc

      There are some folks around here who want him gone because they don’t think he’s clutch in the post-season and they don’t want to hear the “nonsense” about small sample size. They think he can’t handle the bright lights in the big spots.

      I’m with Axisa on this one. That last paragraph sums it up perfectly.

      • JU

        There are people who don’t want the option picked up because Nick Swisher has the lowest baseball IQ of any player they’ve seen play MLB in recent memory. I don’t think he can’t hit in the postseason because he’s “unclutch”. I think he can’t hit in the postseason because he’s not a good hitter – a flawed hitter – who in addition to having no sense of situational baseball, also is incapable of hitting good pitching. He’s not a winning player – not because he can’t handle the bright lights – but because he is overmatched in the situations (the postseason) where it is most critical to be able to perform. You say small sample size, but results that remain consistent over 3 isolated occurrences is arguably more indicative of his ability than 162 games, in which a large number of ABs are coming against bottom-feeding teams and back of the rotation starters.

        • David K.

          This sums it up beautifully. Almost the exact same thing can be said of Mark Teixeira too. I’d resign Swisher and then trade him as soon as possible, preferably this winter.

    • vin

      The folks who want him gone, probably aren’t smart enough to comprehend the concept of picking up the option and trading him.

      As Mike shows, no matter what your opinion of the guy is, picking up the option is an absolute no-brainer.

      • Jumpin’ Jack Swisher (formerly Jorge)

        The folks who want him gone need to finish their math homework. There was one guy yesterday who said his postseason performance couldn’t possibly be due to “small sample size” because it happened over more than one season, never mind the fact that all of Derek Jeter’s postseason at-bats added up equal about one season’s worth of stats – even still a small sample size.

      • http://www.yankeenumbers.com Mr. Sparkle

        Trade him for what? He wouldn’t bring back much in a trade.

  • dean

    Picking up the option is a no brainer…..it’s deciding whether to keep him afterwards that is the question. If they could sign Beltran to a short term deal and then trade Swisher for either prospects or a big league piece then does that make the team better? I say possibly yes.

    • vin

      All things considered, Swisher for one year at 9.25 mil plus 2 draft picks is probably better than 2 average prospects plus 3 years of Beltran (12+ per year)

    • Jetrer

      I’d take Beltran only if it was a one year deal, which I can’t imagine he would accept. Better to keep Swish for the year and then have the expiring contract heading into a much better free agent class after 2012.

    • aluis

      +1

    • http://bleedingyankeeblue.com Jesse

      No. Pick up Swisher’s option like you said, keep him, let him go after next year and go get Matt Kemp.

      • Jumpin’ Jack Swisher (formerly Jorge)

        Exactly. Let someone else give him Jayson Werth money after the year. I’d also gladly keep Swisher over rolling the dice with Beltran.

        • Dave B

          Right on. The idea of Beltran on the team is not appealing…the idea of Beltran over Swisher is horrific. With his injury history we could be looking at Dickerson for two months of the season if Swisher’s gone. No thanks.

        • http://bleedingyankeeblue.com Jesse

          Agreed.

    • Ted Nelson

      Beltran has managed one healthy season in the last three and is on the open market… there’s a whole lot of risk there. Plus once you’re already signed Beltran and promised him a starting spot you lose a lot of leverage in trading Swisher.

  • Jose M. Vazquez..

    Right now there is no one better in the marketplace than Swisher. You could go Casey Stengel style and play Golson and Dickerson there but I do no see that happening. Swisher does help get us to the post season even though his performance has been rather poor in these situations. I say pick up the option.

    • vin

      Cue Monteroisdinero

      3…2…1…

      • Jumpin’ Jack Swisher (formerly Jorge)

        the whiff…

  • Holy Ghost

    I love Swish but the Yankes don’t ‘need’ him. The Yanks have options and they should keep their options open for now. They could:

    A) Trade Swish for a younger outfielder or a pitcher

    B) Let Swish go and give Girardi the flexibility to let Jesus start some games in right-field

    C) Keep him

    Either way I can live with it whether they decide to keep Swish or let him go

  • SRB

    Over the last few weeks I’ve seen way too much “love” professed for Golson, Dickerson, Russo, Curtis, et al.- AAAA players that are a dime a dozen- Keep Swisher and don’t sweat the 40 man roster worrying about which AAAA players to keep

  • UncleArgyle

    I think its a no brainer to pick up the option. But I definately shop him around and see if there are any intresting offers. I think its important to keep in mind that Swisher hasn’t just been a millstone for the Yankees in the playoffs, he was just as god awful for the White Sox and A’s in the postseason as well.

    • gc

      He had 4 total post-season at bats for Chicago. Nobody in their right mind should look at 4 at bats from anyone as representative of anything. And he was 4 for 20 for Oakland with 2 singles, 2 doubles, and 7 walks, which (if my math is correct) is a .407 OBP. Not a great performance, but not not quite as “god awful” as you make it out to be either.

      • Ted Nelson

        Has had a couple of good series and was solid enough in the WS for the Yankees. Solid WS especially doesn’t fit at all with the narrative that he “can’t hit in the biggest spots.” Somehow people assume that the bright lights of the ALDS led him to a .250 OPS in 2009, but then the lights cooled down in the WS to the point where he nearly tripled that OPS?

        http://www.baseball-reference......ni01.shtml

        • UncleArgyle

          Nick Swisher Post Season Career:

          38 Games.

          .169 Batting Average

          .618 OPS.

          If a .168 batting average in 38 games isn’t “god awful” what is?

          • http://bleedingyankeeblue.com Jesse

            But, but, but, Small Sample Size!

            /RAB’d

            • Ted Nelson

              That’s more just /Reality’d…

              The exact same player had a horrible first 150 or so PAs this season… was it the bright lights of April games that led to that?

              • http://bleedingyankeeblue.com Jesse

                Who knows, but I think it’s safe to say that Swisher isn’t a good postseason hitter. Maybe it’s the pressure, maybe he tries too hard. But he’s not a good postseason hitter.

                • vin

                  If you see hoof-prints, think horse, not zebra. (I learned that from ER)

                  Baseball is a game that has meaningful statistics. And the most meaningful stats are those that are born from as many AB’s, innings, games, etc as possible.

                  It’s much more likely that the sample isn’t large enough, than it is to fabricate a story about how he can’t handle the pressure, or that he mysteriously can’t hit good pitching.

                  • gc

                    “It’s much more likely that the sample isn’t large enough, than it is to fabricate a story about how he can’t handle the pressure, or that he mysteriously can’t hit good pitching.”

                    Repeated for emphasis. Thank you.

          • Max R.

            Nick Swisher Post Season career: .202 BABIP
            Nick Swisher Regular Season Career: .287 BABIP

            It’s fair to say he’s gotten at least a little unlucky in the playoffs.

            • http://bleedingyankeeblue.com Jesse

              Maybe a little, but not enough to get him off the hook.

            • steve s

              Sure would be ironic if the Yanks, who were so willing after 2009 to let bona fide post-season clutch performers in Damon and Matsui go, would retain (at a higher price) a bona fide poor post-season performer. Also, I have trouble believing that in this economy, there would be teams chomping at the bit to pick up Swisher at his 2011 option price.

              • http://www.youcantpredictbaseball.com bexarama

                Also, I have trouble believing that in this economy, there would be teams chomping at the bit to pick up Swisher at his 2011 option price.

                That’s… not how it works.

              • http://riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

                I, uh, don’t think baseball teams operate with the same economic parameters as most businesses “in this economy.” I have yet to see Occupy Yankee Stadium as a protest movement, and I’m very confident that Swisher on the open market would get at least the value of his option, especially for a one-year deal.

                • Neil

                  Also there is not exactly a huge collection of free agent outfielders. Definitely could live with Swish and Cash(assuming he’s the GM) can keep his eyes open for an upgrade down the road.

          • Urban

            Perhaps the Yankees can trade for Don Kelly and have him bat clean up.

  • Tom T

    Swisher’s option is the stuff teams dream about — a one year deal below market value for a player around his prime. Delicious.

    The draft picks will almost certainly be there again after next season.

    • Ted Nelson

      Good point about the draft picks likely being there after next season.

  • Rockdog

    In my book, picking up the option is a total “no-brainer.” The tough decisions are going to be around starting pitching. I expect that we sign CC and maybe Garcia, and take a run at Darvish. Not sure that CJ Wilson is worth the money and draft picks that it will cost to acquire him. Should be an interesting offseason. (Aren’t they all.)

  • Lance

    Swisher’s obp, demeanor and durability make him a keeper at the price. It never occurred to me that he wouldn’t be back. Really is a no brainer. How long befores pitchers and catchers report?

    • Rockdog

      +1. But sadly, a long time.

  • Urban

    Picking up Swisher’s option is as easy a choice as picking up Cano’s. There’s an extremely small but vocal minority here or on places such as WFAN who might be against it, but thanfully baseball teams aren’t run by those people!

    One of the last things the Yankees need to be doing is passing on a one-year $9.25 million additional expense for a healthy 31-year-old OFer who has ranked overall as the 4th best RFer in the AL based on fWAR since he joined the team, and was tied for second in 2011, with the goal of picking up a 35-year-old, now-injury-prone Carlos Beltran, who will cost $15 million or more through age 38. Yikes!

    If a better OF option comes along heading into 2012 (unlikely), then the Yankees can still trade Swisher, or Gardner.

  • Jumpin’ Jack Swisher (formerly Jorge)

    Not loving Nick Swisher is not loving life itself. His musical genius would be worth picking up the option alone.

    • Dave B

      Word

  • CP

    Swisher had the third highest OBP on the 2011 Yankees. He was behind Jesus Montero and Brian Gordon (who went 1 for 2 when he started in CIN). Why would you consider getting rid of that?

    • vin

      Never should’ve gotten rid of Brian Gordon.

      • Jumpin’ Jack Swisher (formerly Jorge)

        Bigger in Korea than David Hasselhoff, from what I hear.

  • E-ROC

    Any validity to the rumor that was floated around at the deadline that involved in the Yankees trading Dellin Betances for Domonic Brown? That would be the route I’d go if the Yankees are trading Swisher.

    Agreed the Yankees should pick up the option no matter what direction they go.

    • vin

      Prospect for prospect trades are so few and far between that I’d guess there’s little validity to that rumor. Especially considering Cashman has stated numerous times just how important it is to develop your own pitchers.

      Actually, if the Yanks had Dom Brown and the Phils had Dellin, then I think the trade might make more sense.

  • cranky

    You don’t have to be a stats freak–but merely a keen observer of the game–to know that on-base percentage means more than batting average.
    Swisher had the highest .OBP of his Yankees’ career in 2011–a darned good .374. And he drives in runs, and scores runs, at a pretty good clip, also. He’s not a star, has never been a star, and won’t ever be a star, but he’s a good player by any measure. And, with an .OPS of .800+, he’s productive. Sure, he has stunk in the post season, but there’s never any kind of guarantee that even the superstar players are going to be good in the post-season.
    I like Swisher. I appreciate that others don’t. But signing a FA such as Michael Cuddyer, to produce slightly better numbers for a substantial amount more money, or trading away young pitching for a player who’s only going to be marginally better makes no sense to me.
    Swisher’s a good player, a positive clubhouse presence, and not in any way a detriment to the team.
    If the Yanks had had better pitching in the post-season, they’d still be playing. They realize this, and they will focus this off-season on improving their rotation, their LH relief, and keeping their bench strong. Nothing else makes any sense to me.

  • Monteroisdinero

    Pick up the option and give Swish his last year in pinstripes. One more post season like his last 3 will be more than enough for me.

    Please tell him not to climb the wall on HR balls that land 10 rows in the seats.

  • Dan2

    If you do not pick up the option, he will be the Sox rightfielder next year. He has the personality that can help stabilize and turn around that disfunctional team. Lets not be part of that.

  • ajra21

    he’s been pretty awful in the postseason during his tenure.

    but the FO are idiots if they don’t pick his option up.

  • jay h

    if we don’t pick up the option is it possible to offer him arbitration and get picks for him?

    • Dave203

      Yes, but he might just accept arb since he’d likely end up getting more than 10.25 in arb. That would only be a 1.25 mil raise and arb will usually give more especially with his stats. Wouldn’t make sense from the Yanks standpoint.

  • Yo! I’m Chris

    I agree with a lot that is said on this website but my goodness I’ve never seen a place where more know-at-alls gather. Every time I look at the comments section I think of the scenes in South Park when the townspeople don’t agree with something.

    • Dave B

      How about if we don’t pick up Swish’s option and then re-sign free-agent-to-be Kei Igawa? I think we’d save a few coins. Does this post put us in a better light?

  • http://www.twitter.com/matt__harris Matt :: Sec110

    Im in the keep him for 2012 and go after Kemp, buuuuuut……what’s he going to cost?

    Gotta think he gets north of what Crawford got 7 years/$142M (2011-17) starting with his age 29 season.

    Kemp will be 28 on opening day 2013. (9/23/84 dob)

  • Grover

    Right on target Mike. If CC is resigned and Cashman is unable to find a taker for Soriano is Swisher next on the list to unload so he can sign some starters?

  • Darren

    OBP ALWAYS means more than BA? Really? So Swisher is better than Cano?

    BA is still a stat that means something. OBP is not the be all end all, the same way BA is not the be all end all. What ever happened to context?

    A walk is not as good as a hit.

    A walk is as good as a single that does not advance the runner(s) more than one base, provided that the walk is taken by a hitter who is not expected to drive in runs and/or has hitters behind him who can also drive in runs.

    I can think of a lot of Giambi walks that were a case of being under-aggressive and not a good thing for the Yankees at that moment. When we needed a hit, not a BB to a base-clogging plodder.

    I agree that even if you knew Swisher was gonna fail in the post-season, you would still keep him because he is a big help (or semi-big in a VORPy way) in getting you through 162 games.

    But to dismiss his failures in the post-season as meaningless is just as stupid. They are important failures. They are magnified. And in light of Swisher’s own comments that he gets jumpy in the post-season (no shit), they ARe somewhat predictive and can be considered more than small sample size.

    • Jetrer

      OBP has a higher correlation to a team scoring runs than BA does, so yes it does mean more than BA if you just look at one or the other. And no, he’s not better than Cano, but not because of the average, its because Cano made up for having .025 lower OBP by having .084 higher SLG. Yes hits are more valuable than walks, but walks are much more valuable than outs.

  • CMP

    They should pick up Swisher’s option, let him walk after 2012 and recoup 2 draft picks and make a huge run at Matt Kemp who will be a free agent after next season.

  • Rich in NJ

    It’s really a no brainer to pick up the option, even if they trade him.

  • Andrew J.

    Dump him unless you are convinced you can unload him on another team for prospects. Three years worth of playoff stinkiness is enough of a sample size for me to be convinced I don’t want him hitting in the postseason in important at-bats. At least Arod had a monster 2009.
    AJ

    • Curtis

      Burnett?

    • http://www.yankeenumbers.com Mr. Sparkle

      Three years? I guess you forgot about his awful 2006 ALCS where he went 1-for-10. Some will argue he had five walks, but a couple of those came when the game was long over. Besides, he only had one walk in this years ALDS against some pretty weak pitchers by postseason standards. I guess everyone’s figured out he’s the type of batter where you don’t have to be afraid to throw strikes.

  • Kurt

    I like Swish so I say pick up his option. He will be a big help over the course of the regular season. Leave him off next year’s postseason roster altogether. That way he won’t have to worry about choking again.

  • Bart

    If we knew that Jesus Montero could play the outfield, it would make this decision much easier.

    I wonder if the Yankees will ask Jesus to play some outfield in Venezuelan winter ball.

    Yogi Bera went from catching to the outfield when he was in his mid-thirties. Was Yogi that much more athletic than 21-year old Jesus?

    • Jose M. Vazquez..

      Yogi also played right field in the early forties before he took over rhe catching for good.

      • Jose M. Vazquez..

        I meant the late forties

  • http://fendersonandhampton.com Cuso

    For the purpose of getting value for him, of course I agree.

    But that’s where we disagree. I say pick it up & trade him. I have no interest in losing him for nothing. I just have no interest in his histrionics for another year. Trade him to the NL West.

  • http://fendersonandhampton.com Cuso

    And on another note, if Swisher knew when to draw his walks, perhaps I’d care about his .OBP.

    I’ve been commenting during games all year long about Swish drawing walks with 2 out and noone on. Only to see Posada ground into the 4-6 or 6-4 fielder’s choice to end the inning.

    Then I’ve seen the Yankees draw two walks to start an inning and Swish will hack at the firsr pitch.

    I don’t care about your correlations about .OBP vs . AVG and which is more valuable.

    Those correlations are SUGGESTIVE of what may lead ti success. They are NOT proof positive and they’re evidence of absolutely nothing.

    Watch 167 games this past season. Swisher walks when he should swing and flails and collapses when his patience is needed.

    His RBI comes in droves when the Yanks are leading by 8 or trailing by 12.

    So you OBP-apologists keep reading the back of the baseball cards. I’ll watch the fucking games like I have for 30 years.

    Pick up the option and trade him.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      Am I going to have to dig up the stats, the factual records of what happened on the field, to disprove this line by line, or can you make it easy on me and just admit that you don’t like Swisher and exaggerate to support your opinion?

      • Hardy

        It seems pretty obvious that with two outs / no one on and a Posada ground out on deck it is better to just homer to increase BA then become all OBP-happy and draw a useless walk.

        What am I missing?

        • Mike K

          Can’t tell if you’re serious but since at least some people apparantley believe this…even Barry Bonds couldn’t homer on demand. Is it better to go up there swinging for the fences and make an out, or take a walk and hope Posada runs into one? The answer should be obvious, and if it isn’t…

  • nycsportzfan

    i don’t like the idea because were gonna end up having the same “REGULAR SEASON” type team that is filled with far to few “HITTERS” and to many “STREAKY POWER HITTERS” and we’ll have the same results come playoff time when guys like TEX Alex Swish Jeter(hes anotehr yr older) Granderson all see top pitching and more often then not will be overpowered We WON it all in 2009 because we had Cano/Jeter/Hideki/Damon to mix in with the streaky power hitters and all though we will have montero who falls into the “overally good hitter” category its still to many streaky power hitters and not enough overall “HITTERS”

  • nycsportzfan

    I would turn our attention to getting a guy that hits for a bit of AVEREGE like Jeff Keppinger to sprinkle in the lineup and add some solid Contact to the lineup I really think were way to deep with 240-260 type hitters that will fail against good pitching more often then not We need to get the right mesh of guys and we clearly lost alot when we lost Damon and Hideki because they were overall good “HITTERS” for us We need to get a guy who can hit 290-300 like Keppinger to add to Cano/montero and then u mix in the streaky power hitters and u really got somthing! Tex could help us all out and become the HITTER he used to be and that would solve everything but that probably isn’t happening

    • David K.

      I agree with nycsportzfan. BA may not be a sexy stat these days, but with this team, it is the biggest reason why they’ve been eliminated the past two years. Too many low average sluggers, not enough .300 hitters. Even though their power stats were comparable, for instance, Robbie Cano had a great season whereas Teixeira had a terrible season. We need more .300 hitters and that’s why we can’t afford to trade a Jesus Montero.

  • Grover

    I smell a trade of Soriano and Swisher to the Cubs or Mets with not much more than average prospects and payroll flexibility coming back. Both teams are in need of power and a closer on short deals as they are both in rebuild mode. They are also big market clubs with large amounts of payroll coming off their books.

  • JJ

    Grover – WHAT??? lol Since when do the Yankees trade valuable pieces for payroll flexibility??? We’re not talking about AJ or ARod here. Will NEVER happen…makes ZERO sense.

    Yankees will pick up his option for the reason Axisa said….flexibility. They can shop him in a trade or keep him. It’s a no-brainer.

  • FER

    BETTER TRY TO GET MELKY CABRERA BACK, HE HAS BETTER NUMBERS THAN SWISHER THIS YEAR ( BETTER BATTING AVERAGE, MORE HITS OVER 200, MORE DOUBLES, AND VERY SIMILAR IN RUNS S, RBIS, AND HOMERS, ITS YOUNGER AND BETTER DEFENSIVE PLAYER, ALSO BETTER IN THE POTSEASON. HIS NUMBERS ARE IMPROVING. EXCELEN TEAMMATE

  • mikey

    the one thing i think ppl overlook about swish is his personality… he comes to the ballpark genuinely excited to play the game and exudes nothing but pure child like vigor when hes on the field… swisher unlike 98% of the mlb realizes hes living the dream every boy dreams about … being a pro! u need a guy like him to get the crowd pumped to be that personality on the bench or in the clubhouse… being a die hard yankee fan my whole life im sick and tired of seeing guys with stern looks and douschey demeanors that only play for my team cause they have the fattest wallet… its disheartening… he loves ny he loves being a yankee and thats invaluable..: sure his post season numbers need work but his regular season is pretty good and he tries which is more than you can say for alot of players making more than the league minimum… eduardo nunez led the league in errors no1 wants to trade him idc how cheap he is he is a liability way more than swish could ever be… swish is 29 or 30 he can make adjustments and i believe he will … i hope to see him in pinstripes for a long time because im tired of guys patrolling the bronx cathedral with the look of ” if i wasnt making so much id love to be elsewhere face “