Nick Swisher‘s future in pinstripes looks like it has come to a bitter end. Bitter, not because his play was underwhelming, but because consecutive postseason slumps caught up to him at the worst possible time. This offseason will be Swisher’s first time entering free agency, and entering his next season at 32 years old, it’ll likely be his last opportunity to earn a big contract.
Although I can’t speak for the right fielder, he showed a lot of enthusiasm in his four years with the Yankees, and there seemed to be a genuine connection with the fans, the city, and his teammates. A solid postseason may have influenced the front office or ownership to splurge on a new long term contract for him, however the last few weeks decidedly ended most of these hopes.
His awful postseason slump created a hurricane of boo’s from his once beloved Yankee Stadium fans, and as awful of a reaction it was, Swisher’s response did not help the situation. With love lost on both sides, and the not-so-young switch hitter looking at a contract approaching possibly $100m, the chances of seeing him with the Yankees next year has grown slim.
However, this isn’t to put his career in New York lightly. While the fans and the media are still wrapped up in the recent Yankee ALCS sweep, the consensus on Swisher assumes that he’s replaceable. In a sense, I would agree that resigning him would be a mistake, but for different reasons, in that it is hard to imagine the Yankees’ roster filled with yet another long-term big-money contract. With that said, finding a player of Swisher’s caliber will be a difficult task.
Over the last three years, the Yankees have had an exceptional lot of offensive players. From Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, to Mark Teixeira, you’d be surprised to know that Nick Swisher ranked as one of the most valuable position players on the team. Amongst teammates, his ISO ranked 4th, just behind Robinson Cano, and amongst AL players, he ranked 21 overall. Swisher isn’t just a power guy though, he has one of the best eyes in baseball, something you can’t tell with ISO. On the Yankees he maintained the second highest wOBA, just behind Robinson Cano. That .367 wOBA was also good enough to place him 13th amongst all qualified AL players since 2010.
Over that same time period, of all Yankee positional players, Swisher ranked 3rd on the team with an 11.9 fWAR. Looking at where he sits on the AL leaderboard, at 14th, he falls just 0.1 win behind Joe Mauer. If you compare fWAR to his salary, over his four years with the team, he’s given the Yankees 1 win per $2.1 million paid, which you can compare to Mark Teixeira’s 1 win per $5.5 million or Alex Rodriguez‘ 1 win per $8.7 million.
This is where losing Nick Swisher hurts the most. With a $189 million budget in 2014, the Yankees needs to invest wisely in contracts. His low average annual salary made his dealone of the most team-friendly the organization had. When you consider that the other low salary guys, Cano and Granderson, have expiring contracts next season, it makes the task of replacing Swisher even harder.
His value over the last 3 years has largely been overlooked, and I’d dare say that the right fielder has been underrated. Considering all it took was Wilson Betemit, Jeff Marquez, and Jhonny Nunez, trading for Swisher will go down as one of Brian Cashman’s best moves. While I don’t agree with resigning him, replacing Nick Swisher’s offensive numbers with a similarly team friendly contract will be a lot more difficult than I’ve seen assumed.