Free agent Nick Swisher is drawing plenty of interest this offseason, which should come as no surprise given his consistent productivity.
The 32-year-old outfielder has hit 20 or more home runs in each of the last eight seasons, and he's played in at least 131 games per year over that span. In 2012, he hit .272 from the plate with 24 homers and 93 RBI while also posting the third-highest slugging percentage (.467) of his career.
Given his durability and versatility—the switch-hitter played 41 games at first base last season—Swisher is one of the most sought after free agents this winter.
According to Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston, the Red Sox, New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians and San Francisco Giants are all in the running for Swisher's services.
While all four teams would provide various benefits, some situations would certainly be better for Swisher than others. Here's how I would rank his top options.
3. Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox turned their attention to Swisher after whiffing on Josh Hamilton. If Swisher is smart, he will follow Hamilton's lead and avoid the mess at Fenway.
While the Red Sox are usually an AL East powerhouse, they were terrible in 2012, winning just 69 games. They finished last in the division, and with the Toronto Blue Jays adding several major pieces this offseason, it looks like the Red Sox will be on the bottom of the AL East standings once again.
Boston also only seems interested in offering short-term contracts. Since Swisher is reportedly looking for a five- or six-year deal, he should take his talents elsewhere.
2. Cleveland Indians
Swisher played his college ball at Ohio State, and the Indians are pulling out all the stops in an attempt to bring him back to Ohio.
According to Paul Hoynes of The Cleveland Plain Dealer, former Buckeyes football coach Jim Tressel met with Swisher for lunch on Tuesday.
Jim Tressel went to lunch with Nick Swisher to help recruit him for #Indians— paul hoynes (@hoynsie) December 18, 2012
While Cleveland gets points for creativity, it also makes sense for Swisher baseball-wise. It has a gaping hole in its outfield after trading away Shin Soo-Choo, and Swisher would be an excellent fit in its lineup.
The Indians need Swisher more than any other team, so they would likely be most willing to accommodate his contract requests. They also have the advantage of playing in the AL Central, where the balance of power shifts on a very regular basis.
If Swisher heads to Cleveland, they will be just another move or two away from playoff contention.
1. New York Yankees
Personally, I think Swisher's best option is to return to the Yankees.
He's already won a World Series with the club (2009), and they are a threat to take home the title every year. He's also proven he can handle the pressures of New York, hitting at least .249 with 23 or more homers in each of his seasons with the Bronx Bombers.
Although they flamed out in the 2012 playoffs, the Yankees give Swisher the best chance to win multiple rings. They also shouldn't have any trouble meeting his salary requests, since the Yankees are never afraid to sacrifice money for wins.
I wouldn't blame him for heading to Cleveland, but if I was Nick Swisher, I'd return to New York next season.