July 28, 2014

Olney: Cleveland in “best position” to sign Nick Swisher

The Cleveland Indians could be in the best position to land free agent outfielder Nick Swisher.

Duelling with the Texas Rangers, ESPN’s Buster Olney states that Swisher’s decision will rest solely on the situation he prefers; the Indians will offer Swisher everyday playing time while the Rangers, hot in pursuit of Arizona’s Justin Upton, would have to juggle playing time between their stars.

Having already lobbed contract offers in the direction of Shane Victorino, Jason Bay and Kevin Youkilis, it is obvious that Chris Antonetti has gone into this free agency period with his focus on the offensive side of the game. The left-handed heavy Indians managed a mere 136 home runs with a .381 slugging percentage last season, the sixth worst totals in the league, respectively. Swisher, a former Ohio State Buckeye, is a switch-hitting outfielder with power; not exactly commonplace within the Tribe’s lineup.

Earlier this week, WFNY’s TD stated that it would not surprise [him] if Antonetti turned his attention to Swisher. “He can play both first base and right-field, has power from both sides of the plate, is a fantastic clubhouse guy, and has Ohio roots,” he wrote.

In his eight full seasons within the majors, Swisher has provided at least 20 home runs in each, clubbing 24 with the New York Yankees in 2012. With a career OPS of .828, the 32-year old has been one of the games more consistent hitters, rarely deviating much from his career averages. A change from Yankee Stadium could dampen things a bit, but Progressive Field is obviously more hitter-friendly than the Coliseum in Oakland, where Swisher got his start.

ESPN’s Jim Bowden estimates that Swisher could be looking at a deal for four years, upwards of $60 million. Indians were hoping to sign him for somewhere between $40-50 million, but prior signings may have shifted the market price. As our own Jon reports, this would be the highest valued per-year contract ever handed out by the Indians.

[Related: Why Missing Out on Victorino is a Good Thing]

(Source: Buster Olney, ESPN)

  • Garry_Owen

    One of you stat geeks please give me a reason why we shouldn’t move mountains to get this guy. Well, first put down the comic books and the yoo-hoo, and then tell me why. Am I just being Buckeye sentimental, or is this a no-brainer?

  • cmm13

    I love being “in the best position” and “in hot pursuit” and “among best suitors” and “in talks with”.

  • mgbode

    FA for bats and trades for SPs. I agree with that philosophy.

  • ThatAlex

    The Indians are the most perplexing organization. If we’re throwing big money at guys like Youklis and Swisher, that indicates we’re trying to contend right away. Yet, it’s impossible for us to contend with the state of our starting rotation. As it stands, our rotation right now is Masterson, Ubaldo, Mccalister, Kluber, and Carrasco…with no depth after that. That is FAR from a playoff caliber rotation. If we do sign these hitters, I hope the FO has a plan in place to fix up our rotation, otherwise you might as well not have done anything.

  • mgbode

    his Home/Road splits are negligible. his OPS+ marks are fantastic and consistent. he has been healthy for all 8 full seasons of play. he is not a great defensive OFer (or good even). but, his bat makes him worth it. He is 32yo, so that needs to be weighed to some degree (no deal longer than 3yrs IMO).

    honestly, I haven’t mentioned him much because I thought for sure he would command much more than guys like Napoli, Victorino, Pagan, etc. If he is even close to those numbers, then we should be jumping up and down at him.

  • Garry_Owen

    Thanks. That’s what I thought.
    But don’t you think jumping up and down at him might frighten him?

  • cmm13

    I wish I had a Yoo-Hoo… of course mom forgot to pack it again today!

  • mgbode

    he’s a Buckeye, we’ll just be doing the jumping near or in a lake and he’ll be good:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=voNmz8yqFdI

  • mgbode

    doh! did she at least remember the snak pak?

  • cmm13

    I’ve said it since the start of the Hot Stove season… names. Victorino, Youklis and Swisher are names that the fringe fans identify with.
    Oh and they are better than Sizemore, Damon and Kotchman in your lineup…..well, Damon and Kotchman in your lineup…..cause…..well…..ya know about Grady.

  • Garry_Owen

    We are killer nuts!

  • Vindictive_Pat

    I’d love to have him… good power, good on-base percentage, and great clubhouse guy too.

  • Garry_Owen

    I’ve never been a fan of going to get names for the sake of getting names, but these names (Youklis and Swisher) actually make sense.

  • mgbode

    and you know there’s another name that hits a similar OPS+ to these ones. he’s cheaper because he’s not been as healthy and doesn’t play a defensive position, but he’s a heck of alot better at the end of the bench than a Lillibridge, Damon, etc.

  • Garry_Owen

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
    “Doesn’t play a defensive position” = doesn’t make sense

  • mgbode

    can’t hit the ball doesn’t make sense either but we have a bunch of those guys on the 25man :)

  • Garry_Owen

    True. And I’ve been saying for months that it’s high time to get rid of all of them – and even some that can hit. Let’s get this firesale going!

  • mgbode

    fine by me.

    just keep Kipnis, Chisenhall, Santana, Brantley, Ubaldo/Masterson/Carrasco (don’t sell low), Pestano (keep Jon happy)

  • Garry_Owen

    That looks right to me.

  • Steve

    He’s not even a mediocre defensive OF-er. He takes Duncan-esque routes to the ball, and isn’t much quicker. Which is the primary concern about signing him. His defense may fall off a cliff pretty quickly, making him a bad 1B/should-be DH.

    Also, that 120 OPS+ is solid, but not fantastic (Also, people need to be ready for almost 50 points of OPS to be chopped off his numbers moving from NYS to Progressive). And guys who are low-AVG in their younger years are more susceptible to a quick decline.

    Now that I’ve bashed the guy pretty good, I still mostly agree with mgbode. ~3/35-40, but I don’t think he’s worth more years or dollars/year, which I think someone will throw at him.

  • Dee P

    The Indians can only afford Youkilis OR Swisher, right? There is no chance that we are targeting and trying to land both of them?

    Adding Swisher and Youkilis together, and swapping Cabrera for a couple of MLB ready arms would put me in a small sense of optimism for the 2013 season.

    C-Santana, 1B-Youkilis, 2B-Kipnis, SS-Aviles, 3B-Chisenhall, LF-Swisher, CF-Brantley, RF-Choo, DH-??? with plenty of options.

  • mgbode

    we can sign Youk for $9mil/season and Swisher for $11mil/season and still end up with a payroll well below last year’s.

    also, if we do trade Asdrubal for youth pitching, then it clears up more $$$

  • Steve

    Francona must think he can fix Masterson and Jimenez. You get league average performances out of McAllister and Carrasco and just enough out of Kluber/Gomez/Huff at the back, and squint enough, you can see a rotation.

  • mgbode

    again, his H/R splits are nothing. he actually did alot of things better away from Yankee Stadium (from #s looks like he wasn’t just trying to crush the ball as badly – BBs up, SOs down, etc.). i’m not concerned about his #s dropping much.

    i agree on the defense, but we need his bat badly enough and have the opening at DH if need be.

    i thought that someone would throw more years at him too, but it doesn’t look like he is going to have that option? we’ll see, but I think he’d take that from us rather than from Texas to be a platoon guy.

  • Steve

    And in 2011 his OPS was 60 points higher at home than on the road. Both samples are equally small. It doesn’t change the fact that he’s still a 120 OPS+ guy, but the fact of the matter is that offense is suppressed in Progressive compared to Yankee Stadium.

    Agree that we could use his bat, and have spots at 1B/DH for him, I just have this feeling that he’s a guy who could see a sharp decline. He’s already at the wrong end of the defensive spectrum, and reliant on old-player skills. Anybody who wants him now should not get to complain if he’s fairly useless in 3-4 years.

  • Dee P

    Then I will be on board with those three moves taking place. Even if it means keeping Choo, seeing where the team is heading mid-season, and deciding at the deadline to deal him or not then. We were in it for nearly 100 games last year, and adding Swish, Youk, Aviles and more starting arms to the mix could keep us in it all season.

    Plus, when you factor in good luck with possible bounce back seasons from Masterson and Santana. A completed hail mary from Jimenez, a breakout from Chis, and further progression from Kipnis and Brantley, and it could get pretty fun.

    At least my now my Christmas wish list is clear.

  • Harv 21

    I’d really like both Youk and Swish, because if Chiz plays third we’ll have some semi-obscene sounding radio calls by Tom Hamilton when a guy tries to stretch a double to a triple.

  • ThatAlex

    As I’ve said a bunch of times, no matter what bats we get, our biggest priority is improving our starting rotation. I’m really worried we’re not going to get anything done on that front.

  • TSR3000

    We should change our name to the Cleveland Leverage.

  • mgbode

    Asdrubal and Choo potential trades are for that end. FA is for the bats, trade market is for the arms.

  • mgbode

    yes, that’s why we need only a 3yr contract for him.

  • ThatAlex

    Unfortunately, the market for Asdrubal doesn’t seem that high. The Arizona GM doesn’t seem desperate to make the Bauer/Skaggs deal, and given the latest reports that the Indians were no longer part of the 4-team blockbuster trade, ACab may not even be at the top of the list for them.

    As for Choo, if we trade him, he would only be viewed as a 1 year rental, so we wouldn’t get a big haul. The most likely return we would get for him is a pitching prospect in the low-minors, which would probably take a couple years to become MLB ready.

  • mgbode

    i am under the impression that the only way the deal gets done is if it is part of the Justin Upton to Texas deal, which is contingent on them signing Greinke first. so, we’ll see how that plays out before coming to any conclusions there.

    the haul on Choo depends on who we trade him to and if they think they can sign him long-term. the M’s have pitching to spare if they lose out on Hamilton for instance (and they like to tap into the Asian market). his name is not getting brought up much though, which makes me think that we are holding onto him for now.