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Nick Swisher Rumors
Rangers outfielder Julio Borbon describes his future as "a real question mark," Evan Grant of DallasNews.com reports. Texas appears likely to trade Borbon or designate him for assignment, when they add starter Nick Tepesch to their active roster on Tuesday. If the Rangers designate Borbon for assignment, the Astros might claim him, Grant says. Borbon hit .304/.349/.433 for Triple-A Round Rock in 2012. Here are more notes from around the American League.
- Ranger-turned-Angel C.J. Wilson understands why Rangers fans weren't happy to see fellow former Ranger Josh Hamilton play in Arlington for the Angels this weekend, MLB.com's Lyle Spencer reports. "We're all baseball players," Wilson says. "It's not real life. Sports gives you something to cheer for or boo about. It's your choice. They're not going to cheer for him, obviously." Hamilton signed a five-year, $125MM contract with the Angels in December.
- The upcoming Yankees-Indians series in Cleveland will be a reunion for both Nick Swisher and Travis Hafner, Zack Meisel of MLB.com reports. "Oh, man, that's going to be the jam," says Swisher, who left New York in the offseason and signed a four-year, $56MM contract with the Indians. Hafner signed a one-year, $2MM contract with the Yankees in February.
Indians CEO Paul Dolan explains his team's thought process following a 68-94 season in 2012 and says that a total rebuild was not an option, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. "None of us wanted to think about tearing it down. Our goal is to put together a team to win a World Series. Another goal is to avoid 20 years of losing, which some smaller-market teams have endured." The Indians did trade outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, but rather than also dealing veterans like Asdrubal Cabrera, Chris Perez and Justin Masterson, the team spent heavily on free agents like Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher. Here are more notes from Pluto's interview with Dolan.
- Dolan expresses "a high degree of confidence" in team president Mark Shapiro and GM Chris Antonetti, even though the Indians haven't had a winning season since 2007.
- Dolan also confirms that the Indians offered a four-year, $43MM deal to outfielder Shane Victorino, who ended up going to the Red Sox for three years and $39MM.
- Dolan says he didn't want to worry much about the possibility of Bourn's four-year, $48MM deal turning out badly, but the Indians' history with long-term contracts gives him pause. "We've not had good luck with some of our longer deals," he says. That includes pacts with Travis Hafner, Jake Westbrook and Kerry Wood.
- Pluto notes that season-ticket sales are up since the signings of Bourn and Swisher, but Dolan says that the Indians "will lose money" in 2013. Dolan views the team's offseason spending splurge as an investment in its future.
The Indians announced that they've signed free agent outfielder Nick Swisher to a four-year contract. The agreement covers the 2013-16 seasons and includes a vesting option for 2017.
Swisher, an MVP Sports Group client, will earn at least $56MM before the contract expires. The $14MM vesting option in year five could boost the deal's overall value to $70MM. He'll make $11MM in 2013, $15MM for each of the 2014-16 seasons, and his $14MM 2017 option will vest if he has 550 plate appearances and passes his physical at the end of the 2016 season, reports Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer (Twitter links).
The 32-year-old is coming off of yet another solid season in which he posted a .272/.364/.473 batting line with 24 home runs. Swisher has been a consistent force at the plate for the Yankees over the past four seasons, posting a batting line of .268/.367/.483 with 105 homers across that span.
The veteran comes to Cleveland as the club's replacement in right field for Shin-Soo Choo. The Tribe sent Choo to the Reds earlier this winter in a three-team deal that netted them right-handed pitchers Trevor Bauer, Matt Albers, Bryan Shaw, and center fielder Drew Stubbs. The signing also means that Yankees will receive a compensatory draft pick as they extended the one-year, $13.3MM qualifying offer to Swisher earlier this offseason.
Swisher was said to have a four-year, $52MM offer on the table from Cleveland, but he ultimately got a little more out of General Manager Chris Antonetti & Co. The switch-hitting outfielder reportedly preferred to play for the Dodgers, Angels, or Yankees, but he wasn't a fit for any of those teams given their outfield situations. The Yankees also didn't seem to have much interest in working out a new deal with Swisher once he declined their qualifying offer.
One source indicated to Buster Olney of ESPN.com (on Twitter) that the Red Sox were interested in signing Swisher but didn't want to give up their high second round pick to the Yankees. It's possible that the draft pick compensation tied to Swisher hurt his value as he looked for a deal on the open market. Swisher ranked sixth on MLBTR's top 50 list of free agents this offseason.
Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News first reported the agreement and its value (via Twitter). Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. Ben Nicholson-Smith contributed to this post.
All but seven of MLBTR's top 50 free agents have agreed to terms, but there are still dozens of unsigned players at this stage in the winter, as MLBTR’s Free Agent Tracker shows. Here are some links from around MLB as the 2013 portion of the 2012-13 offseason gets underway…
- Yahoo's Jeff Passan explains the tension between the MLB teams that aim to keep their top draft picks and free agents such as Kyle Lohse, Rafael Soriano, Michael Bourn and Adam LaRoche, who are linked to draft pick compensation after declining qualifying offers. Agent Scott Boras, who represents Lohse, Soriano and Bourn, faces the challenge of finding contracts for these players at a time that some teams are hesitant to engage them.
- Dave Cameron of FanGraphs wonders if the next collective bargaining agreement will adjust or even overhaul the current system of qualifying offers to find a balance for all parties involved.
- Nick Swisher will be introduced to the Cleveland media tomorrow if he passes his physical, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports (on Twitter). The Indians agreed to sign the outfielder for $56MM over four years.
- Though former Angels infielder Adam Kennedy hasn’t officially retired, he’s opening a baseball development facility in Anaheim next week, Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times reports (on Twitter). The 36-year-old TWC Sports client played in 86 games for the 2012 Dodgers, posting a .262/.345/.357 batting line in 201 plate appearances.
- The Dodgers and Mariners haven’t talked about a potential deal involving Andre Ethier in weeks, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). Earlier today ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reported that the Mariners have called the Dodgers repeatedly to ask about the outfielder.
Earlier today, we learned the Indians agreed to sign Nick Swisher to a four-year, $56MM deal, which is the largest free agent contract (in total value) in franchise history, according to ESPN (via Twitter). Here are the reactions to the Indians' big splash into the free agent pool:
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman had kind words for Swisher, as tweeted by Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News, "He was great for us. We’ll miss him, but I’m happy for him. I think Cleveland got a bargain."
- The Swisher move is stunning but it reflects a willingness on the part of ownership to spend (signing Swisher and Mark Reynolds) and make bold moves (the Shin-Soo Choo trade and the hiring of Terry Francona), writes the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Terry Pluto.
- Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (on Twitter) has yet to identify one other team on Swisher's free agent "tour" of prospective suitors. Heyman adds that it's possible that there were other teams in the hunt, but it's a mystery as to who they could be.
- Swisher and Jayson Werth have comparable regular season stats, but Werth got $70MM more in part because of his October play and defensive ability, Heyman tweets.
- The Indians considered all of their free agent pursuits to be longshots, but the fact that Swisher is from Parkersburg, West Virginia and went to Ohio State helped to lure him to Cleveland, Ken Rosenthal tweets. Manager Terry Francona's pitch also factored in for the veteran.
- While the Indians’ decision to sign Swisher while entertaining trades for right-hander Justin Masterson, closer Chris Perez, and others seems curious, the club has an explanation, Rosenthal writes. The Tribe is trying to thread the needle and improve the team both short- and long-term.
- The Red Sox valued the second round draft pick they would have had to forfeit by signing Swisher more than Swisher himself given the new spending restrictions on draft choices, according to Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal. With that in mind, MacPherson wonders, in a second piece, if the Red Sox erred in not tendering a qualifying offer to Cody Ross.
- Swisher's deal is a bit startling in terms of free agent prices and makes B.J. Upton's $15MM/year agreement with Braves look better, opines the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's David O'Brien (Twitter links).
- Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer puts the Swisher contract into historical context by listing the Tribe's five best and five worst free agent signings.
Edward Creech contributed to this post.
Earlier today, Rangers assistant General Manager Thad Levine joined Jim Bowden on SiriusXM radio. Here’s a look at some highlights (all links go to Twitter)..
- The Rangers were never in on Adam LaRoche or Nick Swisher this winter as they didn’t want to dole out long-term deals or sacrifice a draft pick for either player. Swisher came to terms with the Indians this morning on a four-year, $56MM deal.
- The assistant GM said that the club has had great conversations with Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers about Justin Upton. The Rangers have been in talks with Arizona about Upton for quite some time, but it now appears that the Diamondbacks would prefer to trade Jason Kubel. Kubel is set to earn $7.5MM in 2013 with a mutual option for the same amount in 2014, while Upton is owed $38.5MM through 2015.
- Levine says that the Rangers have not discussed Kyle Lohse or Adam LaRoche at this point (Twitter link).
- The Rangers are looking more to trades than free agency to improve their team at this point, Levine told Bowden (on Twitter).
Condolences go out to the family and friends of former Major League utility man Ryan Freel. The 36-year-old was found dead at his home today after taking his own life according to Chad Cushnir of First Coast News and MLB.com's Mark Sheldon. Freel spent most of his career with the Reds, though he also suited up for the Blue Jays, Royals, Cubs, and Orioles.
Here's the latest from around the league as Saturday turns into Sunday…
- Livan Hernandez told MLB.com's Bill Ladson that he plans to play in 2013 (Twitter link). The 37-year-old right-hander posted a 6.42 ERA in 67 1/3 relief innings for the Braves and Brewers last season.
- Jason Grilli will take over as closer for the Pirates following the Joel Hanrahan trade according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (Twitter links). Heyman notes the right-hander does not have any bonuses based on games finished in his new contract.
- Nick Swisher is giving "serious consideration" to the four-year, $52MM offer from the Indians according to ESPN's Jim Bowden (on Twitter). The switch-hitting outfielder prefers the Dodgers, Angels, or Yankees though.
- The Phillies, Braves, Mets, and Yankees are among the teams still in play for Scott Hairston, reports Heyman (on Twitter). Heyman says the Yankees may be at a disadvantage because they already have three starting outfielders.
- In today's Insider-only blog post, ESPN's Buster Olney says the Rangers should not overreact and drastically alter their plan after failing to land several top targets this offseason.
Nick Swisher visited the Indians yesterday, as the team attempted to convince the free agent outfielder to sign in Cleveland. Swisher left to visit another interested team without accepting the Indians' offer. Here’s the latest on Swisher, MLBTR's number six free agent…
- Mark Feinsand of The New York Daily News reports (on Twitter) that Swisher has two offers on the table with three or four other clubs interested as well. Teams do not appear to be hesitant to surrender the draft pick, he says.
- Swisher would like to play for the Dodgers, but he is nowhere near the Dodgers' radar, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. The sides had one conversation weeks ago, according to Heyman. The Indians are believed to be willing to offer the switch-hitter a four-year deal worth $13MM or so per season, Heyman adds.
- The Dodgers aren’t expected to trade Andre Ethier to make room for Swisher in their outfield, Heyman writes. One person connected to the Dodgers said it's almost 100% certain that Ethier will open the season as L.A.'s right fielder, barring an injury.
- The Rangers are in on Swisher, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports.
Mike Axisa contributed to this post.
- Phil Mickelson will not be part of the Padres' ownership group, reports Tod Leonard of the San Diego Union-Tribune. The golf star said he isn't "able to make that kind of long-term commitment to the city and to the team."
- It doesn't seem logical for the Rangers to give Edwin Jackson (what would have to be) a four-year, $50MM contract, opines MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan. We heard earlier tonight that the Rangers and Cubs were the final two contenders for Jackson's services.
- Major League Baseball has ruled that the $2MM the Angels will donate to Josh Hamilton's charitable foundation will count towards the team's luxury tax payments and be counted as "noncash compensation," reports The Associated Press. FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal noted the charitable portion of Hamilton's contract earlier today.
- It can be difficult for players to mentally adjust to the "baseball limbo" that is the offseason rumor mill, ESPN's Jerry Crasnick writes.
- Money has been no object for Tigers owner Mike Ilitch as he pursues a World Series title, but ESPN's Buster Olney wonders if the Tigers' next owner will be able to keep the club's payroll in the $150MM range given the limitations of Detroit's market. (An ESPN Insider subscription is required to read Olney's column.)
- Nick Swisher will not be visiting the Giants during his tour of potential destinations, tweets Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. With the Giants not having enough payroll space left to pursue Swisher, I think we can finally put this rumor to bed.
- The Twins and Carl Pavano don't appear to be a fit, MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger writes. The two sides met during the Winter Meetings and though Pavano has pitched well in Minnesota, he turns 37 in January and missed most of last season with an injured shoulder. I agree with Bollinger that the Twins would probably want a more reliable option than Pavano given that several other projected members of the Twins rotation are also coming back from injuries.
- Baseball people suggest Trevor Bauer has a better chance of becoming an impact player than Didi Gregorius, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic writes. The Diamondbacks sent Bauer to the Indians last week in the three-team deal that brought Gregorius to Arizona. As Piecoro explains in detail, however, there were some questions about Bauer's personality and his ability to be a team player.
MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith contributed to this post
Here's the latest from the Pacific Northwest…
- The Mariners should try something "bold and imaginative" to bring a major hitter to Seattle, such as trading top prospects for a big bat like Curtis Granderson, Andre Ethier, Carlos Gonzalez or Giancarlo Stanton, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal writes.
- Nick Swisher visited Cleveland earlier today to meet with Indians executives and is headed to visit another city, but CBS Sports' Jon Heyman (via Twitter) reports that "the Swisher tour" will not stop in Seattle. The M's would have to give up their first-round pick in next year's draft (No. 12 overall) as compensation for signing a free agent who has declined a qualifying offer from their former team. Heyman tweets that the Mariners aren't willing to sacrifice their pick for Swisher but could do it for "a bigger free agent than Swisher." Michael Bourn seems to be the only free agent left on the market who fits that criteria.
- If the Mariners had $25MM earmarked for Josh Hamilton, Larry Stone of the Seattle Times points out that the club could use that money to sign Bourn and still have enough payroll left to acquire Michael Morse from the Nationals.
- The trade value of elite prospects seems to be dropping, writes Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times, thus hurting the Mariners' chances of using their top minor leaguers as trade chips to acquire proven big league talent.
- Speaking of those Seattle minor leaguers, Fangraphs' Marc Hulet runs down his list of the top 15 prospects in the Mariners' system. "Unlike a lot of the top systems in the game, the bulk of Seattle’s talent is at the Double-A and Triple-A level suggesting better days are ahead for the Mariners and their fans," Hulet writes.