Nick Swisher is a big name going around the hot stove lately, with reports out that Cleveland could be looking to move the soon-to-be 34-year-old in a bad contract-for-bad contract swap.
But while many seem ready to move on from Swisher, such a trade may be premature.
There is no denying the 2014 version of Swisher was one of the worst regular players in baseball. Following a decent 2013 season, everything fell apart for Swisher.
The bat plummeted, with Swisher going from a 128 wRC+ in 2012 to a 115 wRC+ in 2013 to a 75 wRC+ in 2014. Consistency at the plate was the name of the game for Swisher, yet last year, he was significantly below-average for the first time in his career and fell well short of 20 home runs — only hitting eight — after achieving that feat every full season he had been in the majors.
His defense regressed as well, as Swisher went from rating out decently at first base to being easily below-average and contributing in a large way to Cleveland’s much-maligned defense. A team can live with poor defense if a player is raking at the plate — or bad hitting if he is lights-out in the field — but in 2014, Swisher was doing neither.
In addition to the on-the-field problems, Swisher injured his knees, both of which required surgery. The injuries limited Swisher to 401 plate appearances, the first time he had dropped below 600 since 2008 (when he had 588). Prior to 2014, Swisher was essentially a lock for 600 plate appearances; now that is not guaranteed.
All together, this adds up to a player whose numbers were pretty bad, who now has very real injury issues, and is almost certainly on the downside of his career entering his age-34 season.
When a team signs a player to a long-term deal, the assumption is there will be value in the first few years before the contract turns into an albatross on the back end. In Swisher’s case, things took a turn for the worst in year two.
With two years and $30 million still to go, assuming his $14 million option for 2017 does not vest (it probably will not given it would take Swisher surpassing 550 plate appearances in 2016 and passing an end-of-season physical — something your organization likely would not let happen — but it is still technically in play), Swisher’s deal is not one helping Cleveland. But while removing Swisher from the books would be nice, practically, that’s a hard thing to do. Read More…
From Indians Baseball Insider, November 19, 2014