The Cleveland Indians could be in the best position to land free agent outfielder Nick Swisher.
Duelling with the Texas Rangers, ESPN’s Buster Olney states that Swisher’s decision will rest solely on the situation he prefers; the Indians will offer Swisher everyday playing time while the Rangers, hot in pursuit of Arizona’s Justin Upton, would have to juggle playing time between their stars.
Having already lobbed contract offers in the direction of Shane Victorino, Jason Bay and Kevin Youkilis, it is obvious that Chris Antonetti has gone into this free agency period with his focus on the offensive side of the game. The left-handed heavy Indians managed a mere 136 home runs with a .381 slugging percentage last season, the sixth worst totals in the league, respectively. Swisher, a former Ohio State Buckeye, is a switch-hitting outfielder with power; not exactly commonplace within the Tribe’s lineup.
Earlier this week, WFNY’s TD stated that it would not surprise [him] if Antonetti turned his attention to Swisher. “He can play both first base and right-field, has power from both sides of the plate, is a fantastic clubhouse guy, and has Ohio roots,” he wrote.
In his eight full seasons within the majors, Swisher has provided at least 20 home runs in each, clubbing 24 with the New York Yankees in 2012. With a career OPS of .828, the 32-year old has been one of the games more consistent hitters, rarely deviating much from his career averages. A change from Yankee Stadium could dampen things a bit, but Progressive Field is obviously more hitter-friendly than the Coliseum in Oakland, where Swisher got his start.
ESPN’s Jim Bowden estimates that Swisher could be looking at a deal for four years, upwards of $60 million. Indians were hoping to sign him for somewhere between $40-50 million, but prior signings may have shifted the market price. As our own Jon reports, this would be the highest valued per-year contract ever handed out by the Indians.
[Related: Why Missing Out on Victorino is a Good Thing]
(Source: Buster Olney, ESPN)