The New York Yankees have been steadfast in saying that they will be lowering their payroll from its current $197.9 million to less than $189 by 2014 to get below the luxury tax threshold. Joel Sherman of the New York Post is reporting that the first casualty of that effort to reduce payroll is likely to be outfielder Nick Swisher. [via MLBTradeRumors]
Swisher can be a free agent after this season and Sherman wrote that there is "pretty much zero possibility" the Yankees will re-sign him if they really want to get below the threshold. Swisher currently makes $10.25 million.
Sherman also reported that general manager Brian Cashman said that the Yankees do not currently have an outfielder in their minor-league system ready to step in next season. Mason Williams, their best outfield prospect, turns 21 in August. He is playing at Single A Charleston. Slade Heathcott, drafted in the first round in 2009 (29th overall) is at Tampa (A+) in the Florida State League and is hitting only .250.
There has been some speculation that the Yankees might move defensive-challenged infielder Eduardo Nunez to the outfield. The Yankees sent Nunez down to AAA earlier this season because of his defense. That, however, does not appear to be in the plan.
Swisher has been a productive player for the Yankees, hitting at least 23 home runs and driving in more than 80 runs three consecutive seasons since being acquired from the Chicago White Sox. He is also a fan favorite. In the economic reality of the new Yankees regime, however, those things appear unlikely to be enough to keep Swisher in pinstripes.