One of the biggest responses on my post from the other day about the $189M mark and 2014 was that some of you thought that there was no way Nick Swisher would be on the team in 2013, let alone 2014. There is definitely the possibility of this, and while I love Swish on the Yankees for multiple reasons, I can envision a Yankee team without him. As friend of the blog @dpatrickg suggested, if the team does make a run at a big time pitcher like Matt Cain or Cole Hamels and only has money for one of those two/Swisher, well, then so long Swish. So I took to the internet and asked people for what they would offer Swisher if he has a typical Nick Swisher year. Before getting into this, it’s worth noting that Curtis Granderson’s contract has a $13M option/$2M buyout for 2013. I’m going to assume that gets picked up; that’s a pretty great price for a center fielder who can hit like Grandy can.
There were a few people that voted for not offering Swisher a contract at all. The most common option I saw was a contract of 4 years/$50M, with one person suggesting a fifth year as an option with a buyout of $2M. There were a few who suggested three years as well, ranging from $32M to $40M. There was one suggestion (a hybrid one) that suggested 3-4 years at 12-14 per year, which would be a minimum of a 3/36 and a maximum of a 4/56.
I think you could make a case for any of those contracts, and probably wouldn’t be too mad about any of them. I’d prefer to overpay than over-commit. Maybe go 3/42 or something like that. Anyway, if you do want to let Swish walk, for whatever reason, the question becomes, “How do you replace him?”
There are ways the Yankees could get creative, and the flexibility (or potential for it) provided by Brett Gardner and Curtis Granderson could help answer that question. How? Well, if the Yankees decide to let Swisher go, they’re going to need someone who can replace his production both on offense and on defense. It’s possible that, instead of signing a free agent, the Yankees merely shift their outfielders over. They could convince Curtis Granderson to play right (not saying it’s likely) while Brett Gardner could move to center. Granderson already hits like a corner outfielder and is likely to be good in right. Gardner is a league average hitter who plays spectacular defense; his defense might take a small hit going to center, but I’m willing to bet he’s still a plus-plus defender out there. But, now that I finish writing this paragraph, I realize this doesn’t solve the problem at all; it merely shifts the problem from right field to left field. Unless it’s through a trade, letting Nick Swisher walk means the Yankees will have to sign a free agent to replace him.
You can find the list of outfield free agents here, and it’s not that inspiring. Just about every one of those players has a flaw. The only players there that you can say are definitively better than Nick Swisher are Curtis Granderson (Yankee) and Josh Hamilton, who’s injury prone and a half. If there is an alternative, it’s Hamilton. But, his price tag is likely to be a lot bigger than Swisher’s.
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