Free Agent Stock Watch: Nick Swisher

After eight-plus seasons in the Major Leagues Nick Swisher is just a few months away from hitting free agency for the first time. While some players obtain major paydays on the strength of a single breakout season, Swisher will appeal to teams because of the consistent production he has provided since emerging as an MLB regular in 2005. 

Nick Swisher - Yankees (PW)

Swisher has never appeared on an MVP ballot or won a major award. He has never hit .300 or driven in 100 runs. And he has never generated five wins above replacement in a year.

What’s more, Swisher was a below-average defensive right fielder in 2011, according to a pre-season scouting report in The Fielding Bible: Volume III. He entered the 2012 season with average arm strength and accuracy, but below-average range, according to the publication. He turns 32 a few weeks into the offseason, so it'd be unreasonable to expect considerable defensive improvements at this stage.

Yet Dan Lozano of Icon Sports Group can make a strong case that Swisher is one of the game’s top outfielders. Since he played his first full season in 2005, Swisher and fellow 2013 free agent Josh Hamilton are tied for 10th in wins above replacement among MLB outfielders, according to FanGraphs. Just ten players have averaged at least 25 homers and 140 games played per season during that same eight-year period. Swisher’s one of them, along with noted power hitters Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday, Paul Konerko, Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera, Adrian Gonzalez, Carlos Lee, Mark Teixeira and Adam Dunn. It’s nothing more than trivia for now, but this sort of minutiae corroborates the point that Lozano will no doubt be making as he converses with team executives: Swisher is a durable player with an above-average bat.

To what extent will those attributes pay off? Swisher will surely decline when the Yankees extend him a qualifying offer following the season (qualifying offers are for one year and $13MM-plus). He can expect multiyear proposals as a free agent, so he’ll reject the Yankees’ offer, even though it’ll mean the team that eventually signs him will have to surrender a draft pick.

It appeared for a while that outfield depth would be a strength of the upcoming free agent class. But Melky Cabrera has been suspended for the remainder of the season and Carlos Quentin and Andre Ethier signed extensions. This means Swisher, Hamilton, Cody Ross and center fielders Michael Bourn, B.J. Upton and Shane Victorino will be among the best outfielders available. In theory, these outfielders should benefit from reduced competition.

Jayson Werth obtained a seven-year, $126MM contract after hitting .296/.388/.532 with 27 home runs and 82 walks in his age-31 season. Lozano and Swisher are expected to aim big and compare Swisher, now in his age-31 season, to Werth in the hopes of matching his $126MM deal. It would only take one unexpectedly aggressive MLB owner for Swisher to obtain $100MM so it makes sense to be aggressive, but a nine-figure contract seems unlikely.

Jason Bay, who signed for four years and $66MM following his age-30 season, and Michael Cuddyer, who signed for three-years and $31.5MM following his age-32 season, could also be points of reference in offseason discussions. As of now, it’d be a surprise if Swisher doesn’t eclipse the contract Cuddyer signed last winter.

We’re just three quarters of the way through the 2012 campaign, so there’s lots of time for Swisher’s free agent stock to rise and fall before the playoffs even start. With so many games remaining, it’s too early to predict the market for Swisher with much certainty. He won’t be the premier attraction of the offseason — that honor goes to Hamilton –  but it’s a safe bet that he’ll obtain a raise from his current $10.25MM salary on a contract of no less than three years. He could end up signing of the offseason’s largest free agent deals.

Photo courtesy of US Presswire.


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34 Comments on "Free Agent Stock Watch: Nick Swisher"


Seth
3 years 10 days ago

I could say Swisher is no longer a realistic option for the Braves, but that would be stating the obvious.

monkeydung
3 years 10 days ago

1st base for the Dodgers?

monkeydung
3 years 10 days ago

(not at $100 MM)

ranbo
3 years 10 days ago

Melky being suspended would actually seem to hurt Swisher and the rest of the OF FA class–he’ll still be on the market and he just got a lot cheaper.

Lunchbox45
3 years 10 days ago

a team who ends up giving melky a 1 year deal probably wouldn’t be the same type of team looking to give swish 4-5 years. So the melky incident definitely has given the swisher camp more leverage

tao_1977
3 years 10 days ago

The Mets will probably scoop up Melky lol

Yanksfan2010
3 years 10 days ago

Swisher brings a lot of heart and personality to a team.

Since_77
3 years 10 days ago

Thanks Nick but next spring I hope they give Zolio Almonte a shot. A switcher with power and some speed (20 hr & 15 sb already with .280 BA). Yanks need to get younger and more athletic.

YanksFanSince78
3 years 10 days ago

I like Zolio but he can’t draw a walk (5.3% this year) and strikes out a lot (23.4%) and has never had success about AA. I would like us to take him slowly. Sign Nick to a 3 or 4 yr deal if it’s below $14 mil per and bring Zolio aboard by 2013-2014 as a 4th OF (like we did with Gardner) and see what he does.

levendis
3 years 10 days ago

good point about Zolio. Idk about that Swisher deal you suggested. I’d personally prefer Swish to a 3,4 year deal with that kind of money, around 13 mill a year. If the Swish deal means Grandy is out, I’m fine with that. Not such a big fan of Grandy. Hes a very good hitter dont get me wrong, he hits homers, scores runs, and drives people in. However, hes a below .250 hitter, terrible fielder and will only get worse when he loses his speed, strikes out at an alarming rate, doesn’t steal enough bags ( only 8 in the season which is pathetic considering Arod has 10). You gotta take the bad with the good, but not for 16-20 mill a year for 5-6 years. To me it depends at what price BJ Upton can be had. He would obviously be a downgrade with the bat, but he plays good defence, and steals bags. That short field porch will only help though. I feel though that teams will overpay him simply on his potential. I’m really clueless as what he will get this offseason. Maybe sign Swish to your suggested deal and trade Grandy for some prospects, we can use some after all in all disappointing season for the farm. With guys like Tyler Austin and Mason Williams lurking in the minors, cant be locking up these guys to 5 or 6 year deals.

tao_1977
3 years 10 days ago

Austin Jackson has 13 HR / 8 3B and a + .300 batting average in a pitcher’s ballpark…me thinks he would have at LEAST 20 HR hitting in Yankee Stadium…plus Austin is 25 and making less than a mil per year…

YanksFanSince78
3 years 10 days ago

What’s your point? We shouldn’t have made the trade? I always like Austin and I’m not really shocked that he’s hitting well (a little surprised by the bat avg) but let’s not forget that Grandy is still having a very good year and was having an MVP caliber year in 2011.

tao_1977
3 years 9 days ago

my point is…u could’ve gotten most of that production from Austin Jackson at a 1/10th of the cost for the next 5 years…

the yankees historically have done a horrific job of bringing up kids and allowing them to flourish in the NY spotlight…

In terms of players who come up from the minors and stick around to even hit their free-agent years….Since 1980, the yankees have only really had:

(1) 1st Baseman – Don Mattingly
(1) 2nd Baseman – Robinson Cano
(1) SS – Jeter
(0) 3B
(0) LF
(1) CF – Bernie Williams
(0) RF
(1) C – Jorge Posada
(1) SP – Andy Pettite

and this is WITH the deepest pockets in all of baseball…

matt
3 years 5 days ago

mo?

tao_1977
3 years 5 days ago

True Dat…

Slopeboy
3 years 10 days ago

Nick Swisher is a fine complimentary player and not much more. He has a good eye at the plate and knows when to take a walk. He hits to all fields and has enough power that he can hit homers in any moderate sized ballpark. He kills mediocre pitching and only good pitchers give him trouble. That’s why he struggles in the post season.

His fielding leaves a lot to be desired, while his UZR may not be terrible, it does not truly reflect his play in the outfield. His poor approach to flyballs in play and his inaccurate and pop gun arm are often over looked when compiling his WAR stats, so much so ,that they’re misleading. The only time he’ll see a Gold Glove is in someone’s trophy case

Swisher is nowhere near a 100MM ball player, he will do well to get an offer that exceeds what Carlos Beltran received from the Cardinals last season. Possibly 3 years for $45MM or 4 for $48MM, but probably nothing for 5 yrs, and certainly nothing near 100MM. Take him out of a potent line-up like the Yanks’,and he becomes just another average bat in the line-up.

YanksFanSince78
3 years 10 days ago

.251/.361/.464 w/ an average of 26 hrs in his last 3 seasons in Oakland with teams that ranked 7th overall in WAR those 3 years and was w/o Giambi and Tejada playing half his games in a notoriously pitcher friendly stadium.

Slopeboy
3 years 10 days ago

Those are decent enough numbers for a fine complimentary player that expects to be a regular in the everyday line-up. Those numbers hardly warrant the expectations for a $100MM contract or anything remotely close.

YanksFanSince78
3 years 10 days ago

Sorry, let me be clear. He is NOT worth $100 mil and I expressed that on a separate post. However, he is not just a product of NYS or their lineup. He was a good hitter before and a good hitter now.

If I were the Yanks I would offer him about the same deal they offered Damon and Matsui years ago. 4/$52-4/56. Not too much more than what he made this year but more security.

Slopeboy
3 years 10 days ago

we’re pretty much on the same page. As I said, he hits everywhere, so YS is not what’s made him, as others have incorrectly claimed.While I would not miss him if he left, if he signed at what you’re proposing, that would be fair.

jjs91
3 years 10 days ago

“He kills mediocre pitching and only good pitchers give him trouble. That’s why he struggles in the post season.” Do you have anything to actually back this up? Off the top of my head he has done well vs price, halladay, and lee. The real reason he struggles in the postseason is the same reason other players struggle mostly sample size.

Slopeboy
3 years 9 days ago

@jj91
There are three years worth of post season at bats against different teams, where Swisher has yet to live up to his regular stats. The real reason players struggle in the post is mostly that they face better pitching. Off the top of my head, I’m betting his post season batting sample size is much larger than than the pitchers you’ve mentioned. Check it out.

jjs91
3 years 6 days ago

It’s more like 38 gm worth of stats and some of those gms were against awful pitchers that shut him out. He has good sample size vs wilson, weaver, AND GRIENKE, and has done well but i guess i can break down the pitchers who he struggled against in the playoffs in a day or two.

throwitback85
3 years 10 days ago

I said this is in the previous posting, but Swisher should be looking at Andre Ethier’s five-year, $85 million contract as a more realistic comparison.

Tommet
3 years 10 days ago

The mets really need a guy like Swisher. A veteran player who brings a lot of personality to a team. He’ll give them a lot of spirit and a good bat as well. Plus he’s an upgrade from Duda in RF

Slopeboy
3 years 10 days ago

@Tom Gioia
I agree whole heartedly but, that would be possible only if no one not makes a serious bid for Swisher. Even then, it’s doubtful the Mets would offer any kind of money that he’s looking to get. The Mets payroll is supposed to be $90MM next year, which doesn’t leave much room for Swisher .Six players eat up a disproportionate amount of that budget, which leaves very little wiggle room for Alderson to sign worthy players.

Santana- $25MM
Dickey- $5MM
Francisco-$6MM
Niese- $3MM
Bay- $16MM
Wright- $16MM

That’s roughly $71MM in just 6 players. Unless they up the payroll or Swisher wants to play in NY, REAL cheap,the Mets are not going to sign him

tao_1977
3 years 10 days ago

The limiting factor with the mets are the wilpons…not those players…

the mets only have 3 guys making 10 mil or more….with 2 of those 3 contracts coming off the books in 2013, its embarrassing that they never even offered beltran or reyes a contract this offseason…

there is no guarentee they resign wright….johan and bay will DEF be off the books…and 1B/2B/SS/C along with 3-4 SP will all be homegrown and pre-arb or in their 1st arb years…

the committed payroll for 2014 is somewhere around 20 mil…not saying that THIS crop of free-agents is worth it…but resigning Reyes, resigning Beltran, moving Tejada to 2B, moving Wright to the OF…and moving Murphy to 3B would’ve resulted in a much more competitive team for 2012-2013…

IMO they do not have the cojones to trade or resign Wright…they will simply let him walk and then blame him for being greedy

AmericanMovieFan
3 years 10 days ago

I want to see him stay a Yankee, but to do that his demands have to come down tremendously, possibly to 3 years/$36MM or so. I could see the Yanks possibly being generous and signing him to 4 years/$52MM, which would be reasonable, maybe going as high as $60MM if the market for him exploded, but this $100MM+ talk is ludicrous, much as I love the guy.

diehardmets
3 years 10 days ago

If anybody gives him more than $60MM, that’s a major mistake. I imagine the Dodgers might overpay and go to $75MM to solve there 1B situation.

wesman94
3 years 10 days ago

Either got 5/85 and I think he could definitely get somewhere close to that. Like 4/65-75 with an option.

AmericanMovieFan
3 years 10 days ago

Nobody mentions the Giants. They need power, they’re losing Melky, Swish is good for the outfield and first base and they did give Rowand that insane 5 year/$60MM deal. Swisher is better than Rowand and undoubtedly more durable with more consistent power. He’ll get a lot of long doubles and produce his average number of HR’s thanks to the short-ish porch in right field going out into the bay.

Tesseract
3 years 10 days ago

So he has played regularly since 2005 and has the same age when Werth signed his $126 MM contract. Since when did that become a good enough reason to sign for $100 MM plus?

bleacherdude
3 years 1 day ago

Swisher should sign a 7-year 105m contract with the Reds.

Joe
2 years 9 months ago

only 11 months in Nicks calendar……….he sleeps right through October