After acquiring first baseman/outfielder Brandon Moss, 31, from the Oakland Athletics earlier this month, it appears that the Cleveland Indians are now openly looking at trading veteran first baseman/outfielder Nick Swisher, 34.
The main issue, besides Swisher’s terrible numbers in 2014, stopping Cleveland from doing so, at least so far, is that Swisher has two-years and $30 million left on his contract.
Some potential trade partners have been mentioned but no matter who the Indians trade with it appears that they will end up eating most, if not all, of the $30 million.
Swisher hit .208/.278/.331 with 42 RBI and eight home runs in 2014. To be fair, Swisher has had quite a few better years, much better years.
Every other season of his career Swisher has hit 20 or more home runs, with his highest season total coming back when he hit 35 in 2006 for the Oakland Athletics. However, somewhat more recently in 2009 and 2010 Swisher had 29 home runs each and in 2013 he hit 22.
A former All-Star in 2010, Swisher has averaged 87 RBI a year over his 11-year seasons in the big leagues.
To be even more fair to Swisher regarding his poor and uncharacteristic 2014 campaign, he was battling knee injuries and was shut down early for surgery on both knees. He is scheduled to be ready to go for spring training.
Assuming the surgeries went well, Swisher will likely be able to play in more than the 97 games he appeared in during the 2014 season and likely hit somewhere between 15-20 home runs.
There is no doubt that his skills are declining and he is past his prime. However, Swisher has a career slashline of .251/.353/.453 and good power when he’s healthy. He could be an asset to any club, granted the Indians pick up the bill.
Where might Cleveland look to trade Swisher? Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe threw out a few names in his Sunday column including the Toronto Blue Jays, Milwaukee Brewers, Chicago Cubs, Tampa Bay Rays and the San Diego Padres.
Why the Padres would be looking for an outfielder is curious as they seem to have a surplus of outfielders these days, but they could use Swisher as a back-up at first base, I guess?
The Brewers I also see as unlikely as depending upon Swisher’s knees he may or may not be useful that much defensively. Swisher is likely headed for a DH role in the near future.
With the two-years left on his contract plus a vesting $14 million performance-based option for 2017 he just doesn’t seems like he’d be of help to a National League club and he would for an American League club.
The Blue Jays are not in need of a power bat which is esseintially what Swisher would be for them. Already having Jose Bautista and Josh Donaldson, among others, to do those honors the Blue Jays seem covered in that department.
They have Edwin Encarnacion at first and Dioner Navarro spends most of his time DHing. Even if the Blue Jays, and rumor has it they will, trade Navarro they will still have Justin Smoak who is better defensively than Swisher and comes with a much cheaper price.
The most likely of these suggestions by Cafardo could be the Cubs, who would love to add a veteran leader to their clubhouse. Swisher is known to be an amiable player and clubhouse leader.
Of course, the Cubs (or any of these teams) could also opt for veteran outfielder Jonny Gomes who would also add leadership and experience to their young outfield.
Plus, it is well known that he is an amazing presence in every clubhouse he’s played in. Gomes also has a good relationship with Jon Lester from their time with the Boston Red Sox and the A’s.
The Cubs or the Orioles seem the most likely destinations for Swisher out of the suggested options. That is if the Indians pick up most of the rest of Swisher’s contract and they don’t opt for Gomes who’s still out there on the free agent market.
Or he could end up somewhere else completely. There is even an argument out there that the Seattle Mariners should trade for him. It’s all speculation at this point but expect the Indians to be looking for a trade partner when it comes to Nick Swisher.