Swisher, Jackson market heats up
With the Angels signing outfielder Josh Hamilton, the Red Sox signing right-handed pitcher Ryan Dempster, and the Cubs or Tigers nearing a deal with right-handed pitcher Anibal Sanchez, the market spotlight has suddenly shifted to two prime Indians free agent targets: outfielder Nick Swisher and right-handed pitcher Edwin Jackson.
Now that Hamilton has signed it is expected to loosen up the market for the remaining top hitters available in free agency such as Swisher, Cody Ross and Adam LaRoche. The Indians have been a heavy suitor for Swisher for well over a week and long considered the best landing spot for him, that is, until Hamilton signed with the Angels today.
Both the Rangers and Mariners heavily pursued Hamilton, and now that they have been left in the cold they could turn to the next best available hitter on the market in Swisher or outfielder Michael Bourn. This is not good news for the Indians as they have aggressively pushed for a deal for about a week but he has avoided signing simply because he wanted to wait for the Hamilton aftermath so more teams would enter the bidding and improve his market. The Rangers may now be his most likely landing spot.
There are concerns of whether or not Swisher is even interested in the Indians and is simply just using them to drive up his price. Had the Yankees, Giants or someone else offered what the Indians already have – reportedly a four year deal for somewhere between $50-60 million – he might have signed already. He likes the bigger stage and wants to win, so the Indians may not be the best fit for him no matter how much money they offer him.
If the Indians lose out on Swisher, then they could move onto Ross who is not as big a name but may impact the team in close the same way. He may be an easier sign, though there will be other suitors as well that the Indians will have to deal with, so it could be a situation where they have to overpay to sign him.
The Indians do not have any internal options to suitably fill their right field void, so they need to fill the position externally. If the Indians strikeout on both Swisher and Ross in free agency, perhaps they look to the Cubs and try to make a deal for outfielder Alfonso Soriano. They talked to the Cubs about him over the summer and were active in trade talks to acquire him up until the July 31st deadline.
On the pitching front, Jackson may be a more realistic signing than Swisher. With Sanchez reportedly getting a five year deal for $75 million or more tonight, it may mean a three or four year deal for about $11 to $12 million per year would be required to sign him. The Indians have the money to do that and have been aggressive with similar contracts this offseason, so again, it could come down to the preference of the player to sign with them or not.
If the Indians miss out on Jackson they will move onto other options in free agency. They would like to add a veteran starting pitcher through free agency, and another option could be someone like right-handers Jair Jurrjens or Brett Myers. These would obviously be lesser options than the more stable Jackson, so the Indians may put their best efforts forward to sign him because they really want someone in the middle of the rotation that is reliable, durable and could impact the team.
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When you look at it like that you realize how blessed we were. Three sure HOFers in that lineup & that doesn't include the best hitter. Amazing.
Take the hypothetical Lance Lynn for Cabrera trade, our rotation would look something like Masterson, Jimenez, Lynn, Bauer and McCallister or Carrasco. Not great but if Masterson or Jimenez return to prior form, or even both, then we could have a solid rotation.