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Merry Swish-mas! Swisher agrees to deal with Indians

Merry Swish-mas! Swisher agrees to deal with Indians
December 23, 2012
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With Christmas two days away, talk about putting a little something big in the stockings of Indians fans.

The Cleveland Indians and free agent outfielder Nick Swisher have reportedly agreed to terms on a four year $56 million option. The contract also includes a vesting club option for 2017 for $14 million, which could bring the total contract to five years $70 million. He still has to take a physical for the deal to be official, which probably won't happen until after the holidays.

The Indians had been aggressively pursuing Swisher all offseason, and after they traded outfielder Shin-Soo Choo two weeks ago they really intensified their efforts to fill their void in right field with a very suitable external option. Swisher was their guy all along and while at times it looked like he was simply using them as leverage to get a deal elsewhere, the Indians remained steadfast and continued to try and work out a deal until both parties ultimately agreed to a deal today.

Swisher, 32, is a switch-hitter and hit .272 with 24 homers, 93 RBI, and .837 OPS in 148 games for the Yankees last season. He is a career .256 hitter with a career .828 OPS and has averaged over 25 homers and over 83 RBI the last eight seasons. He will be inserted into the middle of the Indians lineup and immediately upgrade a position of need.

Swisher replaces Choo who hit .283 with 16 HR, 67 RBI, and .815 OPS last year for the Indians. The numbers are similar for both players where Choo was a little more of a speed and on-base guy, while Swisher has more power. In any case, the Indians knew Choo was not going to return after the 2013 season, so they flipped him in a trade that netted them Trevor Bauer, Drew Stubbs, Bryan Shaw and Mitch Albers, and then more than adequately filled the position with Swisher who is now under control for at least another four years.

The Indians starting outfielder for 2013 now appears to be set with Swisher, Michael Brantley, and Drew Stubbs. It should be a notable improvement over last year's outfielder that primarly was Brantley, Choo and a combination of Jhonny Damon and Shelley Duncan.

In addition to paying Swisher at least $56 million the next four years, the Indians also lose their 2013 second round pick as compensation for the signing. But right now that does not matter as his signing should help bring hope to the fan base that the organization has indeed changed their ways and faith in the team can start to be restored.

Swisher is not a great player by any means, but he is a good, solid addition the team needed. He will energize the team on the field, and should help energize the fans as well. The Indians certainly overpaid, but in this day and age in free agency, this is the cost of doing business. If you want even an average player, you have to be prepared to overpay and back up the Brinks truck.

Follow Tony and the Indians Baseball Insider on Twitter @TonyIBI. Also, his new book the 2014 Cleveland Indians Baseball Insider which profiles the Indians' Top 100 Prospects and more is available for sale.

User Comments

December 23, 2012 - 11:48 PM EST
Aussie, completely agree. Boy am I glad the Red Sox came in and signed Victorino now. The Indians, to me, got a much better player in Swisher for close to the same about they were going to pay Victorino ($3M more a season).

Brandon, the outfield is improved. Offensively, it arguably may be the same, but that is if you think Stubbs has another down year. But defensively? Vast improvement. And speed? Big improvement going from Duncan to Stubbs who is a game changer on the bases.
December 23, 2012 - 11:42 PM EST
Elliott, I see the lineup going more like this as Brantley has proven to be a poor leadoff hitter in the past and thrives in the 5th/6th spot:

1. Kipnis
2. Cabrera
3. Swisher/Santana
4. Swisher/Santana
5. Reynolds
6. Brantley
7. Stubbs
8. Chisenhall
9. DH
December 23, 2012 - 11:40 PM EST
League Park, 4/56 or even 5/70 does not resign Choo. He has Boras as his agent, which means no extensions are given and he goes into free agency. If he has any kind of good year and with the national TV money coming into play, the market is going to be even more insane next offseason. I've heard 5/85 and 6/100 thrown around for Choo next offseason. That is what it is getting to. Absolutely no way the Indians could have spent less to sign Choo. Will have to spend at least $20 million or more. I don't think anyone is saying Swisher makes a big difference, just he fills a big void left by Choo in the outfield. When you consider the Indians basically traded one year of Choo and Sipp for 4-5 years of Swisher, Stuffs, Bauer, Shaw and Albers.....that's a good return.
December 23, 2012 - 5:12 PM EST
Not exactly thrilled about the deal as I believe we overpaid but it's hard to be mad when a big name free agent comes to cleveland. I'm still not seeing how our outfield is going to be a notable improvement though. As you said, Swisher and Choo have similar value, so not much improvement there. Brantley should have a year like last year, maybe slight improvement. Shelly Duncan actually had a better ops than Stubbs last year by 66 points!

Our outfield should produce similar results as last year. Hopefully Bauer can become an impact player because outside of him, our roster hasn't been significantly upgraded for the 2013 season.
December 23, 2012 - 4:53 PM EST
Brainfart - meant Aviles not Albers.
December 23, 2012 - 3:32 PM EST
Hairston doesn't really make sense, because they need a left-hander more. Stubbs has a huge split where he hits lefties well and hits right handers not at all. Hairston is identical. Figure against lefties, DH is primarily occupied by Santana, with Marson catching. They really need one more decent left handed bat, preferably someone who can play the outfield or 1b, but I would be okay with a DH-only Hafner type. I understand them not wanting to go that route though. Actually Ibanez would've made some sense, but he just signed with Seattle.
Pete Podnar
December 23, 2012 - 3:11 PM EST
I agree with Nick. If they get Kelly/Lynn and Taveras from the Cardinals, you make the trade.
December 23, 2012 - 1:57 PM EST
THE Indians may think about signing Bobby Abreau or Scott Harrison for DH- or out fielder rather then signing one area on free agent only DH. MARCUM or Loshe for pitching help in free agent, or the big trade with ST. LOUIS i AM pushing for weeks on this site and also THE Bruce Drenaan show.
December 23, 2012 - 1:36 PM EST
What a great Christmas gift. Glad to see the full court press on Swisher worked. I think this signing helps Santana the most, as Swisher can take some of the pressure of Santana by becoming the cleanup hitter or protecting Santana in the #5 spot.
League Park
December 23, 2012 - 1:27 PM EST
Yah Carl, spending money like a drunken sailor on shore leave is always the answer. See Angels, Red Sox, Marlins in 2012, & on & on
December 23, 2012 - 1:26 PM EST
The Indians don't have a dh for a reason. they want to have flexibility to give kipnis, Cabrera, and swisher days off without taking them out of the lineup. So most likely that 9th spot in the lineup will be filled by Mike aviles, carrera, or Lou marson. It just depends on what player is getting rest. Also Chris mcguiness has to stay on the 25 man roster since he was a rule 5 draft selection so he will also get some of those dh at bats if he makes the roster. Laporta will most likely find himself on a different teams minor league roster next season. Not the Indians 25 man roster.
December 23, 2012 - 1:18 PM EST
Rotating DH/McGuiness
December 23, 2012 - 12:57 PM EST
I think you mean someone other than Albers as DH Elliot, they are missing a DH, but hopefully they don't need to fill that spot with a relief pitcher. It would still be good if they could pick up one more hitter. I know they aren't interested in Hafner, but to me it would be worth the shot, if he's healthy enough to play 100 games it's a big improvement and the cost is negligible. If he goes down 1 month into the season, then, you're in the same situation you are now with a rotation DH.


Aussie Tribe
December 23, 2012 - 12:53 PM EST
Is it an overpay - yes
Only 1m per yr more than Victorino and I'd take Swisher before him any day! Finally!
Hope the people who says Dolans cheap etc don't now say paid too much, you can't have it both ways.

Elliot, Albers a pitcher so don't think he'll solve your DH problem.
Done my Xmas shopping, sleep now as its 5am over here.
Merry Xmas all

December 23, 2012 - 12:42 PM EST
Interesting potential lineup:

Brantley lf
Kipnis 2b
Cabrera ss
Santana c
Swisher rf
Reynolds 1b
Chisenhall 3b
Stubbs cf
Albers/LaPorta/? dh

Deep lineup. Balanced. 3 switch hitters in a row. Potential (7) 20 homer bats. 8 if LaPorta comes back. (Longshot). Lineup can compete with anymore.
December 23, 2012 - 12:41 PM EST
Great Signing by Tribe. Sure we overpaid, you always overpay in Free Agency. However this deal not only improves the team, it shows players and fans that Tribe is willing to spend to compete. Yes we are still miles away from the Tigers. We need at least one good SP and hopefully budget will allow signing FA to help. You have to like this deal if you are a fan of the Tribe.
December 23, 2012 - 12:29 PM EST
Didn't expect this to happen. I'd say this ranks as one of the best off season's for the Indians in recent memory. Of course I thought signing Kerry Wood and acquiring Derosa were solid moves. But, they've exchanged Choo for Swisher, who's been a better player than Choo the past 2 years while acquiring Trevor Bauer.

Shy, great players get a lot more than $14 million a year. $14 million a year is good-but-not-great player money. This is what free agents cost. Compared to 3/39 for Victorino or 4/52 for Edwin Jackson, I think 4/56 for Swisher is a considerably better deal.
League Park
December 23, 2012 - 11:44 AM EST
Tony, couldn't the indians have spent less to sign Choo? What makes some of you people think Swisher is going to make a big difference? Cliams that we now relevant or a contender are laughable.
December 23, 2012 - 11:43 AM EST
"Swisher is not a great player by any means" and Shapiro gives him 56million dollars over 4 years- the 32-36 post prime years. It's Dolan's money down the drain- his kids don't need it. I will enjoy the team more this year with him on it, but I might enjoy it just as much w Tim Fedroff and Zeke Carrera out there and the money spent on pitching and player development. Long term, I think this deal will be hanging on Chief Wahoo like an ill-fitting polyester suit. Let's see what happens. Merry Christmas and happy, healthy New Year everybody. Love the one yer with...
Cleveland fan in Cali
December 23, 2012 - 11:26 AM EST
Great job Tribe! Still have work to do, but definitely a step in the competitive direction.
December 23, 2012 - 10:51 AM EST
Yes, important to note that the Indians are not done with the Swisher signing. They still want to sign a proven, veteran starting pitcher. Also will look around for LH relief, though that may be hard to find.
December 23, 2012 - 10:51 AM EST
Just wanted to clarify that the easily obtained vesting option is what I'm more worried about as far as the years of the contract being an overpay.
December 23, 2012 - 10:50 AM EST
Now it,s time to go after pitching. Free agent like Macrum, or Loshe,. Or offer a trade offer to st.louis for their top 3 prospects llike Miller, Taveras, and Martinez. Miller and Maritnez are top pitchting prospects. Taveras top out field prospects in all of baseball.
December 23, 2012 - 10:47 AM EST
As far as AAV $14 million isn't an overpay as long as you believe that Swisher can produce an average of at least 3 WAR over the life of the contract, the only overpay I see is in years, but when you have a guy who was initially looking for Werth's contract heading into the off season, you take what you can get.

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