MLB Free-Agent Scenarios: 5 Options for Yankees to Replace Nick Swisher
Rumors have been circulating that Swisher could be looking at a Jayson Werth-type deal that would pay him around seven years and $126 million. The question for the Yanks will be is if he's worth it.
Up until this point in the season, Swish is hitting .255 with 20 homers and 78 RBI. The Yanks' outfielder had a solid month of August hitting .306—his best of the season. But since then, Swish is hitting .127 in September and is seemingly tailing off.
No matter how much he might have stepped up while some of his fellow teammates were on the shelf, if Swisher wants the type of money that has been reported, he won't be back next season—especially with the Yankees' future payroll plans and their goal of spending money more wisely.
Signing Swish to such a deal with his current numbers wouldn't qualify as such.
Let's take a look at some options the Yankees will have in free agency to replace him.
Ludwick has been a major piece in the Cincinnati Reds offense this season, helping his squad to first place in the NL Central and it's become a certainty they will play baseball in October.
2012 has been a major improvement for the 34-year-old. Ludwick has seen his average jump 38 points from where it was last season and he could realistically finish above .280 for the year. If so, that's a full 25-to-30 points higher than where Nick Swisher sits, not to mention Ludwick's superior power numbers.
To make those numbers more impressive, Ludwick has played in 14 less games than Swisher.
Ludwick wouldn't give the Bombers a spectacular glove in the outfield, but neither does Swisher. Still, Ludwick can hold his own and play either corner outfield position, as well.
With his age getting up there and his career having dropped off a cliff until this season, Ludwick should command a shorter contract than Swisher would, who is slightly younger. The Yanks could get the Reds' outfielder for a more reasonable price as a result, thus making him the smarter move.
If the Yankees truly want to get younger and faster, signing Upton this offseason would be the way to go.
After starting off his career as a .300 hitter, Upton's numbers in the average department have slowly declined. The same went for his power numbers as of 2010, but since then Upton has picked those up.
Upton and Swisher have one very common thread: Their average is around .250. Beyond that, Upton has some huge advantages over Swish that makes him more attractive for the right price.
Upton is a given to steal 30-to-40 bases in any season, something the Yanks are sorely lacking in their all-or-nothing lineup. Without Brett Gardner in the lineup, New York has become even less able to move baserunners by any means other than a big hit.
Adding to this team defensively, the Yanks would enjoy a true center fielder who possesses great speed and a great arm to boot. Upton has eight assists on the season and that leads all MLB center fielders. His .993 fielding percentage places Upton in the top 10 in the league also.
The market will be deep for Upton, however. The Yankees will be competing with other teams who are looking to make the same improvements they are. But if the price is realistic and equal to what Swisher commands, and the Yanks must have one or the other, Upton fits more of their needs and better.
Bourn is another attractive player on the market that could fit many needs for the Bombers.
With the Atlanta Braves, Bourn has been their go-to leadoff hitter during the 2012 season and has done a solid job in doing so.
For the Yanks, Bourn would be the perfect fit in center field. The Braves outfielder has been rock solid in center field and his great speed would cover that famous real estate at Yankee Stadium real well.
Also using his speed, Bourn would be the ideal leadoff hitter. He's stolen 39-of-50 bases in 2012, one year after tying a career-high in the same stat with 61-of-75 swipes. In all, Bourn has broken 39 or more steals six times during his career.
That type of speed would be ideal at the top of the Yanks' order. Derek Jeter could slide down one spot and New York would have one heck of a 1-2 punch to set the table for its big bats.
Being a speedster and the league-wide lesson learned from the Carl Crawford-Red Sox debacle, the market might not be as high on Bourn as many would think. He will certainly run cheaper than a guy who hits for more power like Swisher, and that's exactly what the Yankees like to hear nowadays.
He'd be a downgrade in the power department, but Bourn could very well bolster the top of the Yanks' lineup and help them score runs in other ways. Even without Swish, the Bombers still have plenty of power.
Pierre has been one of the better leadoff hitters and a terror on the basepaths for the better part of over a decade now and 2013 might be the season he brings his talents to the Bronx.
Pierre has had a resurgence of sorts while playing with the Philadelphia Phillies. The speedy outfielder has been a rock at the top of the Phillies' batting order and has improved his average to .312 so far this season—31 points higher than his 2012 total.
On top of that, Pierre is a shoe-in to steal 30-to-40 bases in any given season and could add a true leadoff hitter to the top of the Bombers' order. Pierre's success rate at stealing bases hasn't been ideal the past few seasons, but in 2012 he's 35-of-42 in that category.
Sliding Jeter down to No. 2 would give the Yanks a lethal pairing that would help set the table for the bigger hitters, making it a bit easier to score runs.
In the outfield, Pierre is versatile having played every outfield position during his career. Even at the age of 35, Pierre could still roam center field at Yankee Stadium sufficiently, giving the Bombers great speed to cover plenty of ground.
The Yanks would no doubt take a hit in the power department with this move as well, but Pierre would make up for that by scoring a ton of runs. With New York supplying a better lineup behind him, Pierre would be a certainty to score 100 runs.
Given his age, Pierre could be the perfect cheap, short-term solution for the Yanks, still keeping them on track to get their financial house in order by 2014.
From this Yankee fan's lips to the ears of the baseball gods.
Hamilton is almost a scary perfect fit for the Bombers. A left-handed hitter with immense power in Yankee Stadium would be a dream come true for the team. To go with that power, Hamilton can handle the bat as well and his .287 average would be a welcomed improvement to Swisher's .255.
The Rangers' outfielder can also handle the glove and could play either right or center field at the ballpark in the Bronx. Hamilton has an arm to be wary of as well, picking up five assists combined during the 2012 campaign.
The concerns about Hamilton have always been his health and his battle with addiction. Neither of those factors are certain to work out for Hamilton at this point, making him a risky, expensive proposition with enormous upside.
Furthermore, Hamilton could be looking at a gigantic contract the likes of which Pujols signed this past offseason for 10 years and $240 million. With the Yanks looking to cut payroll, spending that kind of money might turn them off.
To bring Hamilton to the Bronx, the Yankees would certainly have to say goodbye to Curtis Granderson. Grandy has a club option for 2013 at $15 million with a buyout of $2 million should New York choose to go into a different direction.
By 2014, major recipients of pinstriped money are coming off the books. If the team sticks to short-term deals this upcoming offseason, the team could be left with a payroll made up of three big contracts totaling roughly $72 million.
With the way Jeter is playing and the type of career numbers he is approaching, it's a very realistic possibility he plays in 2014. He could add his current salary of $17 million to the rolls, bumping the Yanks' payroll up to $89 million.
Robinson Cano will demand a contract extension, whether it be in 2013 or 2014. The Yankees second baseman will command "Derek Jeter money" which could pay him around $20 million per year. That deal would bring the Yanks' payroll to $109 million.
So let's say the Bombers pay Hamilton an astronomical amount of money totaling roughly $24 million per season. Doing so would take New York to around $133 million for the 2014 season, leaving $56 million to plug the rest of their holes.
With major arbitration-eligible players like Michael Pineda, David Robertson, Brett Gardner and Ivan Nova still on the books, that $58 million should be enough to cover those players alone.
After that, the Yanks would still have to add more players to cover the rest of the spots on their team. Signing all of those players would leave the Bombers 15 players short of a 25-man roster. One way or the other, the Yanks would need a major youth infusion from their farm system in order to make this happen.
The last potential solution to making this work would be to let Jeter go after the 2013 season. That would be $17 million extra the Yanks could use to put their roster together and still have Hamilton on it. However, saying goodbye to Jeter will be easier said than done.
In the end, Hamilton to the Yankees would take a monumental effort, but it is plausible. Sacrifices will have to be made to bring one of the best hitters to New York. As of now, it looks like this move will be too difficult to pull off, but stranger things have happened.
The scenario may seem far less likely with the current regime running the Yankees, but if The Boss was still in charge, bringing Hamilton to the Bronx would be a foregone conclusion.
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