A recent report indicated that the New York Yankees are expected to pick up the $10.25 million option for 2012 on outfielder Nick Swisher's contract, a move that could come whenever the World Series ends. Our friends over at SB Nation's Yankees blog, Pinstripe Alley, are gleeful that the Yankees appear ready to keep Swisher around.
'Yankees2' wrote that he would be "shocked and disappointed" if the switch-hitting right fielder was not retained. Here is his argument:
Over the course of his Yankee stint (450 games, exactly 150 regular season games each year), Swisher is averaging the following numbers: .267 BA, .368 OBP, .486 SLG, 27 homers, 85 RBI, 141 hits, 33 doubles, 85 runs scored. He's been good for the fourth highest WAR amongst RFs over the past three seasons (11.0 according to fangraphs) behind Ben Zobrist, Jose Bautista and Shin-Soo Choo.
Who would take over right field if Swisher were given the boot? It certainly wouldn't be a free agent, seeing as the 2012 list is, to put it gently, sub-par.
While I realize attitudes and "clubhouse presence" are continually bashed as being miniscule, it appears that Swisher has taken the duty of keeping a light, upbeat mood with him wherever he goes. Yes, I've never been inside the Yankee dugout or clubhouse. The only Yankee I've ever spoken to for longer than 15 seconds was CC Sabathia and it wasn't in a private environment. However, Swisher has been an absolute hit with the fans of New York and I've never read a fellow teammate of his say a negative thing about him.
Nick Swisher is a consistently above-average baseball player that fans love. In my eyes, he's exactly the player the Yankees should desire keeping around.
It only makes sense to bring him back.
That's a well presented case for keeping the 30-year-old Swisher. You know what, though? I am ambivalent to it. I could actually not care one way or the other whether the Yankees keep Swisher, or let him go and decide to move in another direction in right field.
I know the list of free-agent outfielders is less than impressive. I really don't want Carlos Beltran at this point. And Michael Cuddyer is not an upgrade from Swisher. Really, no one on the list is.
Still, it wouldn't bother me a whole lot if the Yankees moved on from Swisher. He really is not much of a defensive outfielder -- his arm only looks good in comparison to former Yankee Johnny Damon's. He really is not ever going to improve on the good but not great offensive numbers he has compiled the past two seasons. He has gone six-for-41 the past two postseasons, a .146 batting average. Maybe he spends a little too much time playing to the Bleacher Creatures and enjoys the New York limelight a little too much.
Would it bother me to see the Yankees bring in a less expensive player to patrol right field? Maybe use a platoon out there with youngster Eduardo Nunez seeing some time in right field against left-handed pitching? Jettison Swisher and bring in someone like Cuddyer or David DeJesus, good players who would cost less? Not at all, to be honest.
I can live with the Yankees keeping Swisher for one more year. I can live with them moving on without him. For me, it is much more important that the Yankees upgrade their pitching staff than spending a lot of time worrying about who is in right field.