Winter Meetings Wrap: Swisher, Youkilis are top targets
The winter meetings are over and everyone has gone home. The Indians were very active on the free agent and trade fronts, but were unable to come away from the meetings with any new acquisitions in tow.
Here are some final news, notes, and thoughts on the winter meetings:
- Things are pretty clear where the Indians stand right now. At the moment they have contract offers out to free agents Nick Swisher and Kevin Youkilis, and they are actively pursuing a trade of Asdrubal Cabrera. There are other players in the mix like Mark Reynolds and Ryan Ludwick on the free agent front, and Dee Gordon and maybe even Corey Hart on the trade front. But right now the focus is on signing Swisher and Youkilis to help the lineup and trading Cabrera for pitching help.
- Regarding Swisher, he does not appear to be close to signing, but a lot of people in the industry believe the Indians are in the best situation to sign him. At the moment the Indians, Mariners, and Phillies are his biggest suitors, but the Phillies interest may have wavered some after trading for Ben Revere. Now, as we know, these things can change at a moment’s notice, and more teams may enter the mix once Josh Hamilton signs. But Hamilton’s market is not that big, so it should not affect things too much other than maybe add the Rangers into the mix if they miss out on Hamilton and Justin Upton. What it could really affect is the Mariners interest as if they lose out on Hamilton they could intensify their efforts considerably to get Swisher. This one is going to be interesting to follow, but the Indians should be in on him until the very end. Ultimately, as it always does, it will come down to a decision from the player on where he wants to play because as we have seen with the Indians this offseason, sometimes offering the most money doesn’t mean everything to the player.
- As for Youkilis, this is a situation that you would think would be resolved very soon, possibly sometime today or by Monday morning if he wants to take the weekend to think about it. Pretty much the industry consensus has it as being down to a two team race between the Yankees and Indians to sign him. The Yankees are offering him a one year $12 million deal, and the Indians are reportedly offering him a two year $18 million deal. Ultimately his choice will come down to whether he wants to win and take more money for one year to re-establish his value to get a better contract next offseason, or if he wants more security with a longer contract for more total money and maybe not have a chance to win but go to a situation he would be much more comfortable in than in New York and play for his former manager Terry Francona.
- On the Cabrera trade front, this is something that should continue to be fluid as the Indians shop him around to teams this offseason. There is obviously a lot of interest from the Diamondbacks. I don’t care what their GM says about wanting a shortstop with more than two years control, that is simply nothing more than GM speak. You don’t waste two weeks working hard on a deal for Cabrera if you seriously would not take a guy with only two years of control. But the Indians have talked to other teams about Cabrera, and there are a lot of deals they are considering that have not even hit the rumor mill. The Indians may not have been able to seal the deal on a Cabrera trade in Nashville, but the foundation has been more than set to deal him, and deal him soon. They know he is their best chance to get a young difference maker for the starting rotation, maybe two difference makers, and it looks like they have passed the point of no return and will trade him at some point this offseason. There was thought that momentum was being gained where he would be dealt before the end of the meetings, but with Zach Greinke and Hamilton holding up the market, any trades involving Upton and Cabrera have pretty much been put on standby as so many of the teams that want Upton and Cabrera are affected by what happens with Greinke and Hamilton.
- It is important to note that the offseason is not a failure because the Indians did not make a deal at the winter meetings. If so, then about 25 other teams would be considered failures too as this was one of the least active winter meetings in some time as far as done deals go. What this means is a lot of deals could be coming in the next seven to ten days, and I would expect the Indians to be at the center of a lot those deals. They may lose out on a few more free agents, but it looks like they are committed to spend some money and get someone, and they also look pretty committed to trading Cabrera. It is disappointing that the Indians were unable to make some news by making a big deal at the winter meetings, and I am sure they are too, but winter meetings or not the process moves on and continues and we are going to continue to see the rumors fly the next few weeks as teams and players look to get deals done before Christmas.
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.
MC, I believe with Laroche, he's just very likely to resign with Washington. Myers, Liriano to me fall into the category of non-upgrades. Especially Liriano, at that point why not bring back Hernandez? Either might be useful, but might also be a horror show. Jackson commands more than the $18 million for Youk. I would love to see them get Swisher, but yeah,Ross is fine. I would prefer Swisher, 30 points of OPS is substantial, but so is the likelihood that they will be outbid.
I'd be fine with Cody Ross, but I prefer Swisher over him. Ross has been a solid player, but I don't think he has been near the consistent player over a long period of time and as impactful as Swisher. Since 2006 when Ross became a regular, he is a 10.4 WAR player in those 7 seasons from 2006-2012. Swisher is a 16.9 WAR players in those 7 seasons. Just a better player. I have no problem with Ross as a fallback, but if given the option to sign one or the other, I go with Swisher.
Nick Swisher 537 at bats:
hr rbi R BB K SB CS avg Obp slg ops
24 93 75 77 141 2 3 .272 .364 .473 .837
Cody Ross 476 at bats:
22 81 70 42 129 2 3 .267 .326 .481 .807
I do like Nick Swisher and he is a switch hitter, but cody ross is right handed and has comparable numbers. He should get a contract in line with what Ryan Ludwick got. Ludwick had a little bit better numbers, but is 2 years older. If it will take 4 and 50 to get Swisher, getting ross for 2 or 3 yrs at 7-8 mil a yr seems like a much better value.
How about LaRoche. 571 abs
hr rbi R BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPS
33 100 76 67 138 1 1 .271 .343 .510 .853
He actually has better numbers than swisher and would only cost a 3 year deal, with reports he may have to settle for 2 years.
Adam is left handed, but if ross were to replace damon in left and hafter is replaced with a right handed dh, then having a lefty at 1st doesn't make the indians nearly as lefty heavy as last year. LaRoche is also one of the top defensive 1st baseman in the game.
Other good options for 9 mil, instead of youk, could be Joe Saunders, Brett Myers, or edwin Jackson. To a lesser extent maybe Franky Liriano. I don't love any of those pitchers and Jackson might be closer to 14 per, but all of them would be improvements over the current crop of slop the Tribe has to roll out in the middle to back of the rotation.
I don't know how anyone can think signing Swisher and Youkilis would be bad. If they picked up those 2 and kept Cabrera, they would have a deeper lineup than anyone in the Central. If Victor's back at full power, the Tigers might still be better overall, but they have a lot of weak links. If I were to chart an ideal offseason, it would be signing Youkilis and Swisher, and trading Cabrera, Perez and a prospect for Bauer and someone like Mike Olt. If they could pull that off, they'd be well positioned now and in the future, with some rotation questions, but also a lot of upside, a lineup with few holes that's locked in for the next 2-3 years, and still have some money to spend next year to either re-sign or replace Choo.
As for Choo, I don't see him getting anywhere close to 4/64 next offseason. It is going upwards of that, more like 5-6 years and close to 90-100 million. Remember, it is Boras, and Choo could be one of the prime free agents next offseason hitting the prime of his career.
off season may not be a failure, but the front office has proved time an time again that they are.
Swisher, I think will be a tough sign, though I think it would be wrong to think the Indians can't go toe-to-toe with the Phillies in terms of $. The Phillies don't have a huge budget, because they already have a bloated payroll, with a lot of money locked into underperforming/injured players like Utley and Howard. And Seattle might sign Josh Hamilton, and aren't necessarily a more attractive team than Cleveland. I'm surprised more teams aren't interested in Swisher though (I do think ultimately he'll be this year's Beltran, and Ross their Willingham who they could've had if they'd aggressively targeted him instead. Ross is not as sexy of a pickup, but is a decent player)
A lineup that adds Swisher and Youk can stomach the loss of Asdrubal, Aviles is at least a halfway decent replacement. If they trade Asdrubal for a pitcher, then that means they don't need to spend money on one of those. I don't know that Bauer is the guy to target, I think Antonetti is right not to do that deal straight up. Too many questions about him and his arm. If they can get Bauer and the other prospect they want, then absolutely. It's not like they MUST trade Asdrubal ... though I think any shot at signing Swisher and Youkilis would require moving Asdrubal or Chris Perez.