The Nick Swisher Situation

Fan Confidence Poll: February 27th, 2012
2012 Season Preview: Fighting Father Time
(REUTERS/Steve Nesius)

It’s been more than three years since Brian Cashman pulled off one of his greatest heists, stealing Nick Swisher from the White Sox for a package of Wilson Betemit and nothing else in particular. Swisher had the worst season of his career with the ChiSox in 2008 (91 wRC+ and 1.3 fWAR), plus Ozzie Guillen didn’t like him one bit. Cashman bought low and has been rewarded handsomely, getting three years of well above average production (126 wRC+ and 11.0 fWAR) for a well below market rate ($21.05M total).

The Yankees picked up Swisher’s no-brainer $10.25M option for 2012 early in the offseason, ensuring that the marriage would last at least one more year. The 31-year-old outfielder will become a free agent for the first time after this season, and he started preparing for the open market by switching agents last February and showing up to camp with a noticeably stronger upper body this week (“This is the strongest I’ve ever been,” he said). Swisher has no intention of talking to the club about contract extension during Spring Training or regular season, however.

“That’s not my style, man. I don’t force the issue,” he said yesterday. “I just go and play the game and I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. That’s kind of one of those things that I’m really going to keep in that back corner and not really worry about that until I have to.”

Swisher has made no secret of how much he enjoys playing in New York, which is something I’m sure the Yankees will use as leverage if and when they discuss a new contract. The Michael Cuddyer deal (three years, $31.5M) gives us an idea of what it’ll take to sign Swisher beyond 2012, a deal that would be a bit of a bargain given his production. The problem is that the Yankees seem intent on getting below the $189M luxury tax threshold by 2014, which will require them to shed approximately $40M in payroll over the next 24 months.

Right field is one obvious spot where the team could save money, replacing Swisher and his $10M+ salary with a low-cost player or two-man platoon. It’s much easier said than done given the production they’d be losing, especially since the Yankees don’t have an obvious replacement coming up through the farm system. Maybe Zoilo Almonte is that guy, but there are reasons to be skeptical. If Swisher is allowed to move on, the team will likely to get a little creative to replace him. The Yankees have won World Championships with guys like Chad Curtis and Ricky Ledee and Shane Spencer in a corner outfield spot, so it can be done.

Fan Confidence Poll: February 27th, 2012
2012 Season Preview: Fighting Father Time
  • nsalem

    Poor Playoff Performer vs Small Sample Size Revisted ad nauseum coming up very soon.

  • Paul VuvuZuvella

    Love Swisher’s Taoist approach here. Clock 30 HR’s, play your best baseball and let IT come to you.

    • Cuso

      Swisher has only hit 30 HRs ONCE and that happened back in 2006.

      “29 is not 30, Eddie” – Clifton James as Charles Commiskey in Eight Men Out.

  • Bacciagaloop

    Someone on PSA posted that they think the Yankees will make a big push for Hamilton in the off-season… I don’t see how they can considering the total salary number they are shooting for. Is it possible if Mo retires, they don’t resign Swish and they plan on letting Granderson walk?

    • Manny’s BanWagon

      Why not add 5 years at $50, 000 per year to the end of Arod and Jeter’s contracts to coach or make appearances to lower their annual values?

      • Bacciagaloop

        Is this a serious question?

        • Manny’s BanWagon

          No, though it would be funny to see Selig have a cow if they tried.

      • Preston

        Extensions are new contracts, and do not affect a current contracts AAV.

        • Needed Pitching

          extensions have to replace existing contracts
          Players are not allowed to have more than one contract in place at a time

          That said, Selig would never allow such obvious circumvention

  • jack cury

    But but small sample size unlike every other player who hits in playoffs.

  • Manny’s BanWagon

    With the left side of the infield aging, I don’t think they can get by with a Curtis/Ledee/Spencer like player in RF especially when they get no power out of LF.

    Looking at their internal options and the FA market, aside from BJ Upton, I think their best option is going to be to resign Swisher.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Agreed. Kinda hard to go with patchwork in RF when LF isn’t producing any sort of power.

      • Sayid J.

        Don’t see why not. Gardner may not produce power, but he’s an effective player. Gets on base, steals. Great for the 9 spot or leadoff. The RF platoon could have power. Not advocating for this, but an Andruw Jones type and a lefty bat could form a cheap, formidable RF situation that doesn’t hurt the lineup at all. Patchwork doesn’t have to mean shitty.

        • Manny’s BanWagon

          From an offensive standpoint, Gardner is below average in LF. Almost all his value is defensive.

          I agree “patchwork” doesn’t have to but almost always does mean shitty.

          • Eric

            Only if you look at it from a power (HR) stand point. Otherwise, Gardner is above average in SB, runs scored, OBP, etc.

            His type of play complements the Yankees perfectly. People tend to dismiss his type of player but they are very important to every club.

          • JobaWockeeZ

            His wRC+ including his 2009 time is 109. That’s not below average at all.

          • CJ

            Without Brett Gardner the Yankees are a very slow team. Gardner surrounded by Martin Jeter granderson gives some dimension of team speed. 3-7 is station to station 3 run homer style. Gardner is very important to this team.

            • AJavierkei Pavagawnett

              Career wRC+ for Gardner is 105, including 103 last year. That’s average. OBP of 346 last year wasn’t great.

              Gardner’s high WAR is based on his defense being hilariously over-valued.

              Look, he’s a mediocre bat who plays very nice defense who comes cheap. But it’s laughable that people think he’s a near-elite player. Any value he has projects to evaporate as he gets into his mid thirties and loses speed. And he is the most disposable position player on the team.

              You think the Yankees would be any different as a team if it was Chris Dickerson starting instead of Gardner?

              • G

                Yes… A much lower OBP, less speed, and worse defense. It’d be stupid to say it wouldn’t make a difference. 6.1 and 5.1 fWAR last two seasons. You can’t just disregard that.

                • I am not the droids you’re looking for…

                  No but you don’t have to take it at face value for two rather impactful reasons:

                  1) defensive metrics are assessed subjectively and thus subject to bias and straight up mistakes
                  2) defensive metrics have no meaningful (or universally agreed upon) way of being tied back to wins the way offense is
                  3) because of 1 and 2, comparing players is that much more difficult

                  Okay so that’s actually three reasons.

                  Bottom line: defense is important. But it’s not a stretch at all to believe that defense is overvalued *particularly when it comes to WAR* and its ilk.

  • CS Yankee

    It is always hard to pay a decent dollar for something that was such a bargain. I like having both Martin & Swish but also like having them at a bargain moreso (and I’m one that almost never get caught up in the $).

    I see him as a great teammate, power with decent average, strong arm, decent D……but almost 32 (almost all head down the slope from there), and fair-poor in post season.

    Good year would warrant a 2/25, but I doubt he settles for that or that the FO should commit beyond that with all the talent deep in the system. Maybe a 2/25 with an option for a 3rd year at 14 (with a 1M buyout).

    • Monterowasdinero

      Strong arm?

      I laughed.

      • Manny’s BanWagon

        Swisher would be the “how not to throw the ball to the infield” portion of an instructional baseball video with his rainbow throws.

        • G

          His arm is strong, his throwing style is just iffy. He fixed it up a bit last year and was noticeably better.

      • nsalem

        Maybe he meant strong arms. Or maybe strange arm.

      • gc

        From the same universe as Jesus Montero being a “catcher.”

        • JobaWockeeZ

          Such a stretch for a half assed insult.

        • Monterowasdinero

          Thanks gc. I usually don’t do the insult thing. Nick Swisher is 31 and Jesus Montero just finished his 21 year old season and he plays a much harder position. Right field? Please…

          We shall see.

          One thing is for sure:

          Montero has a stronger arm than Swish.

      • CS Yankee

        My fail…mental laspe.

        Should have wrote; “quick arm”, as he does release the ball before planting the feet (to make up for his lack of a “frozen rope”) towards Cano, but with the arch of a Kobe Bryant.

        :::hangs head in shame:::

        • Monterowasdinero

          Cano could catch Swisher’s throws without a glove from deep rf and the corner but he doesn’t want to embarrass his teammate.

  • small sample size

    Who can replace these numbers in the playoffs.
    .172/.256/348 why you would need some sort of a babe Ruth clone.

    • Monterowasdinero

      Since the Yanks will make the post season we will have one more shot to see Swish in October. If he sucks-for me that would be enough.

      He will have an excellent year until then though.

      Nick $wi$her!

      • Cris Pengiucci

        Gotta make the playoffs in order for someone to excel or suck in them. Swisher will play a fairly major role in getting them there.

        While the team has oggten there with average or below corner outfielders in the past, they also had a strong one to offset the weak one. I like Swisher. He seems to bring a lot to the team and would be difficult to replace. Just hope that he comes with a reasonable enough price tag for the team to retain him.

        • Cris Pengiucci

          oggten gotten

          Wow, don’t know how that happened.

        • JobaWockeeZ

          Swish averaged 3.6 fWAR since 2009. ARod, Jeter, Gardner, Cano, Granderson, and Teix all outWARed him.

          I feel better about Swish going forward than Jeter or Teix but they’re stuck with them. Swish is going to need to take a decent paycut if he wants to stay.

          • Cris Pengiucci

            That’s not a valid comparison. How would the Yankees replace that 3.6 WAR he provided if he were to leave? When you consider that Jeter and ARod may also decline, you’ve got even more to make up. I don’t think it will take a significant pay cut for the Yankees to want to retain him. If he’s will to accept about what he’s making this year, that may do it. Seems that may be a possibility, based on his comments.

            I’m not saying they should retain him, as they may have better plans and I don’t get paid to make these decisions, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they did.

      • Manny’s BanWagon

        The fact that he’s sucked in the post season makes him even more valuable.

        All the Yankees have to do is get him enough ABs and eventually he’ll reach his regular season level which means he should be Bonds-like over his next few hundred postseason ABs.

        • UncleArgyle

          Great Point. The Law of Post Season Small Sample Sizes predicts that Swish should be geared up for a Monster Postseason. 1200 OPS or more over the next 20 post season games is likely on the Horizon.

          All joking aside, I like Swisher, but signing him for more than 2 years seems unwise. Let someone else pay for his Decline years.

    • pat

      We should get a guy who sucks in the regular season and has a good couple games in the playoffs.

      • hogsmog


    • Tcmiller30

      With the pressure on a contract year, should we expect these types of numbers all season from Swisher?!?!

      • Needed Pitching

        last year was a contract year too

      • aluis

        Good One!!!

  • Matty Ice

    “Yanks won with Colin Curtis in a corner outfield spot”

    Well, they kinda had Paul O’Neill in the other.

    • Chip

      And a not old Derek Jeter at short

    • nsalem

      They had a 15 year old playing left field?

      • Cris Pengiucci

        No, it was his older brother, Chad.

        • nsalem

          and his mama’s Jamie Lee Curtis and his grandpa is Curtis (Bombs Away) LeMay

      • Robinson Tilapia

        I laughed, and sadly missed that when I read it.

  • All Praise Be To Mo

    Any way we can trade Betances + or Hughes if he doesn’t win the 5th spot for Dominic Brown? The Phils seem like they’ve given up on him already and I think he’d be great in RF as a low cost replacement for Swish.

    • FIPster Doofus

      Probably not, but it’s a shame what the Phillies are doing to Brown.

  • Rafael

    I think that he’ll give a big discount to remain a Yankee.
    Yesterday he said that he’s already making good money while his wife too. And he really look like a guy that think “enough is enough, i’m not gona make 16M/Year but i stiil have a lot of money and i can be a yankee for the rest of my carrer”

    • Dan

      I would agree with that except that most players do not change their agent to Boras when they are not planning on testing the market. I think if the Yankees only offer him in the 10-13 mill per year range and some other team offers anything over 15, he will take the other offer. With Kemp off the market, he will also be the only big name FA outfielder available next year so there is a chance the Yankees will end up in a bidding war where his price might exceed what they want to spend.

      • DM

        Boras isn’t his agent.

        • Dan

          Ah, thanks… I saw the link that was posted said he was going to hire Boras, but I didn’t click on it to see it was Lozano

          • DM

            Doesn’t matter much — your point still applies. He might work with them to some slight extent to stay; but I can’t the Yankees being interested on that level. They might offer a 1-year deal to see if he bites but he won’t. I don’t have an alternative in mind yet — and I don’t consider Almonte to be one.

            • Dan

              Right, and without an alternative it might put them in a situation where they will re-sign Swisher and let Granderson walk the following year hoping someone in their system might be ready by then. I think with Dickerson clearing waivers, maybe they could use a Dickerson/Jones platoon in right next year, but that seems like a big dropoff in production.

      • aluis

        Like the Redsox going over $15M?

    • Tara

      Swisher’s wife comes from serious money–her father was a big-shot gynecologist in Tampa then opened up a bunch of weight loss clinics where there’s a three-month wait just to get a consultation. Swish basically won the lottery marrying her, he’s not stupid. I think you’re going to see him really tone down this season–as others have written he seems to rub some people in the organization the wrong way (Jeter in particular looks at him like a piece of dog poop on his shoe) and if he throttles it back it’ll show he’s serious. He’ll take the hometown discount and if his bat stays alive he’ll be the Yankees’ main DH in a couple of years.

  • Plank

    That picture is entitled “the symmetry.”

  • Bacciagaloop

    Hamilton sign an extension or something?

    • Manny’s BanWagon

      Not that I know of but would you want to bring a 32 year old injury prone alcoholic/drug addict who needs a 24/7 chaperon to play in NYC on a long term contract?

  • Robinson Tilapia

    “Swisher models new crotchless Yankee attire for swingers’ parties.”

  • viridiana

    Much to be said for signing Swisher before Grandy and Cano up after 2013. Yanks almost certainly will not sign all three. If they sign Swisher first, takes some of the pressure (Boras will be glad to apply) off signing the other two. If Boras insists on a nine or 10 year deal for Cano — and is anyone sure he won’t?– Yanks could opt to sign Grnady. if Cano/Boras are reasonable they can afford to let Grandy go. By 2014, either Mason or Flores or Murphy or Heathctott might be ready (even if somewhat rushed). But if they fail to sign Swisher they almost have to sign Grandy– and most pepole seem to think Cano is a must-sign as well. Signing Swish take some of the pressure off -espeically as no in-house replacements are on the horizon.

  • Tim

    They will keep all 3 believe me. Martin/Soriano/Garcia/Kuroda/Chavez, other assorted players will be gone, no need to skimp on the studs.

  • Tim

    Mo/Soriao/Garcia/Kuroda/Ibanez/Chavez/Martin = $52M, Cano=$19M, Grandy=$17M, Swish=$12M = $48M

    • Dan

      This just keeps their payroll around what it is now, if they are serious about getting under 189 by 2014 they are going to have to do without at least one of those three.

      • JobaWockeeZ

        Two of them play up the middle positions and two of them play in positions where it’s hard to find any real offense.

    • OldYanksFan

      They save another $10m on AJ by 2014.

  • Tim

    They will have lots of cheap options, ie, Nunez, J.R.Murphy, Romine, Betances, Montgomery, Ramirez, Bichette, etc. to fill in the gaps.

  • JobaWockeeZ

    If this 189 million dollar thing is true then goodbye Swish. It’s been nice. Let someone else overpay the fuck out of you just like the majority of corner OF free agents.

  • Tim

    Who’s to say Jeter doesn’t hang it up after 2013? Nunez becomes fulltime SS? But I agree if it’s down to one of the 3, Swish is the odd man out imo.

  • Mike HC

    I love Swisher but I don’t think he is getting a long term deal here unless he takes a discount and I don’t see why he would do that. I’m guessing that Swisher is going to be more valuable to other teams than he is to the Yanks when push comes to shove.

    My crystal ball says that he is headed to the NL. The true monster superstars are getting snatched by AL teams left and right (Yanks, Sox, Angels, Tigers). The second tier type guys like Swisher will probably be targeted by the NL.

  • Craig Maduro

    I’m on board with re-signing Swisher at the end of the season. Short of a trade, there is no way to improve the outfield while letting Swisher walk.

    B.J. Upton might cost just as much while producing less – at the dish at least – and I think Josh Hamilton in New York would be a nightmare because of his cost and likelihood of injury.

    We also have to remember that the Yanks have a hole at DH/3B depending on when A-Rod permanently moves off of the hot corner. They can’t skimp on RF when a significant portion of the offense (you can argue that SS and LF are weak spots as well) is teetering on the edge of becoming average.

    • Mike HC

      I think when ARod is ready to move off third (and that could be a little while) Cano might be ready to move off second and third is a perfect place for him. Meaning, 2nd base might be the opening when or if ARod becomes a permanent DH. Just throwing that out there.

      • Craig Maduro

        I could see that. That would actually be ideal. At least the standards for a new 2B could be a slightly lower than the standards for a new 3B. It’s a lot easier to accept a .780ish OPS from the former than it is from the latter.

        • JobaWockeeZ

          2B and 3B are nearly identical in offensive output. 2B are barely worse.

          • Craig Maduro

            Well, that may be case as of right now, but in terms of profiling positions, offensive production is a more important factor for 3B than 2B. The gap may be closing, but if the Yanks had to “get creative” or something along those lines at either 3B or 2B, I’d rather it be 2B.

  • Shwish-a-licious

    That comment about shedding 40 mil over 24 months makes it look a bit more daunting than it really is. That whole will be covered by losing the commitments to Burnett, Felicano, Marte, Mo, and Soriano. Only the last 2 will actually have to be replaced, and it seems, the new philosphy is to go cheap in the pen. Hopefully Banuelos will be ther at league minimum in place of Kurod’a 10 mil, thos few moves provide a lot of the financial flexibility needed. Obvioulsy there are other positions too adress, signing Cano, Grandy, whats happening with shortstop and catcher, but I think theres room for Cashman to get creative and hold Swish.

  • David Ortiz’s Dealer

    Its team policy (more or less) to not talk about contracts early, if Jeter had to myre through a contract year w/o deal, Swish will have to as well.

    I sometimes get the impression that Swish is a bit to “loud” for the Yankee brass.

    He seems to have the right idea, play well and it will take care of it self.

  • statboy yankopherson

    andru jones in right. grandy in center. gardner in left.

    then trade betances for a great relatively young 4th outfielder type who can spell left & right

    done. 10 mill saved.

    • Havok9120

      Uhhh. No.

      I’ll keep Betances and use Dickerson of Maxwell. They aren’t “great”…but I really don’t think that “great” 4th OFers exist.

  • Dick M

    A fundamentally flawed hitter who doesn’t hit good pitching.

    • Mike Axisa

      Oh good, this stupid argument again.