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Indians sign Nick Swisher to four-year, $56 million contract

Dec 23, 2012, 10:18 AM EDT

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As first reported by beat writer Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News, the Indians have signed free agent outfielder Nick Swisher to a four-year contract worth $56 million. It’s only pending a physical exam.

The deal also includes a $14 million vesting option for the 2017 season, meaning the total potential length and value of the contract is five years, $70 million.

Swisher hit .272/.364/.473 with 24 home runs and 93 RBI in 148 games this past summer for the Yankees. The 32-year-old boasts a solid .256/.361/.467 career batting line in the major leagues.

Cleveland will start Michael Brantley in left field, Drew Stubbs in center and Swisher in right.

  1. jdg1206 - Dec 23, 2012 at 10:25 AM

    Four years. Too long

    • dan1111 - Dec 23, 2012 at 10:38 AM

      Given the contracts that have been handed out this season, the price seems reasonable. Swisher is a solidly above-average hitter, and has been quite consistent for the past four years.

      What I don’t understand is: why the Indians? They lost 94 games last season. They haven’t made any other big moves, and they don’t have much up-and-coming talent. Some teams might be one Nick Swisher from contending, but they surely are not. And it’s an awful lot of money to spend given that context.

      • tashkalucy - Dec 23, 2012 at 1:05 PM

        Why the Indians?

        Indians had to give up a 2nd round draft choice, the other teams after him had to give up their 1st.

        That limited the money and years they were willing to give him… the Indians bid against themselves some as they’re desperate.

      • Kevin Gillman - Dec 23, 2012 at 1:39 PM

        I love these ignorant posts, like your teams or city is any better than Cleveland. Let’s see here, why did he choose Cleveland?

        1. Carlos Santana will never hit over 27 HRs again, right? The fact Swisher is going to protect him in the lineup means he will have more pitches to hit, and if he does get on base, Nick will drive them in.

        2. Think about Jason Kipnis, Jason’s numbers in the 1st half were All-Star caliber, but then he got worn down, it happens to most 1st year players in their first full big league season. Jason will hit around .280+, 25 HRs, and 80 RBIs, not to mention steal around 20-30, and might score 100 runs.

        3. Asdrubral Cabrera- If they keep him on the team, he has hit 15+ HRs in two straight seasons, and a 2-time All Star. Nothing more to be said about him.

        4. Michael Brantley- He has become the most consistent hitter on the team this past season. The one bright spot in the CC deal. No reason why he can’t hit .280 again, and drive in runs in scoring position, especially with Swish and Carlos hitting in front of him.

        5. Lonnie Chisenhall- If he can stay healthy, he also can be productive, and now gets a fair shot to see what he can do, but the best thing about his position now is Francona doesn’t have to put him in the 5 spot, just keep him down around 7-8.

        This offense is better than what alot of people think. Now here comes the strength of the team.

        6. Bullpen- With Vinnie Pestano and Chris Perez in the mix, the game is over when the Indians have a lead in the 8th inning, that’s been proven.

        The weakness of the team are the starters, but they also can go out and get someone on a good price. My choice would be Jair Jurjens, but they also have Trevor Bauer now, who can be an ace for years to come. Just not this year.

        Now, why Cleveland? I don’t know if you guys have figured this out, or not, but many movies are either in the process of being filmed, or have been filmed in Cleveland. Just this past year, The Avengers, you might have heard of that movie was filmed in Cleveland. The landscape is beautiful, there is money being made with that, and now Captain America 2 will be filmed there too, as well as many other movies. It’s cheaper to be filmed now than it would be in Los Angeles.

        And oh yeah, Ohio is also home to Nick, so that part made sense, and here’s something else, Terry Francona. I am not saying the Indians will win the AL central with this move, but what I am saying is this team was in the thick of the race in July, then bad luck, or karma hit the team with a manager that didn’t have many answers. Terry has lived through it all, I trust him to get out of those messes than say Manny Acta, but that’s just me.

      • bigharold - Dec 23, 2012 at 1:40 PM

        Why Cleveland?

        There are 56 million reasons for that …

        Besides when the Indians decide that they don’t need an expensive OF and trade him in two years, .. eating part of his salary, .. then he’ll get the money AND be back on a contender!

      • mrfap626 - Dec 23, 2012 at 1:48 PM

        272 is not average unless your comparing it to all hitters who fail to reach base 70%of the time. would it make a difference to you if you were paid millions to be on a losing team when the real contenders have the smarts to not pay for someone on the down side of their career These guys get paid millions win or lose. If we perform to only 70% at work , we’re out the door

      • dan1111 - Dec 24, 2012 at 4:15 AM

        @Kevin, I think you misunderstood me. I have nothing against Cleveland–I have spent some time there, and it is a nice city (with a beautiful ballpark). I don’t think it strange that Swisher or anyone else would choose to go there.

        My point was that this doesn’t seem to work from the Indians’ perspective: why are they spending so much money on a moderate-impact player, when they do not appear close to contending?

        The team does have some strengths, as you have pointed out, but they still don’t have the pitching. I am a big fan of Francona, too, but a manager has a limited influence on game outcomes.

        All that said, I hope I am proven wrong about the Indians. But I just don’t see it at this point. It’s not like Swisher was some rare talent that they had to lock up. They would have been better off waiting a year or two until Bauer was ready and some other pieces were in place.

    • Old Gator - Dec 23, 2012 at 12:01 PM

      Four years in Cleveland. Too long.

      • bigharold - Dec 23, 2012 at 1:37 PM

        I thought it was hot in Cleveland?

      • Old Gator - Dec 23, 2012 at 3:44 PM

        Nope, the river won’t burn anymore.

      • mikeinthevine - Dec 23, 2012 at 5:03 PM

        Not as long as four years being around your ignorant ass.

      • bigharold - Dec 24, 2012 at 12:19 AM

        “Nope, the river won’t burn anymore.”

        Damn the EPA!!!!!

      • coldyron - Dec 24, 2012 at 2:19 PM

        At least Cleveland will still have a baseball team in 4 years, enjoy the Marlins’ season!

    • hockeyman77 - Dec 23, 2012 at 12:55 PM

      Indians probably gave him the most money but Nick did attend Ohio State

  2. proudlycanadian - Dec 23, 2012 at 10:27 AM

    I suspect that the Indians were bidding against themselves.

    • dirtyharry1971 - Dec 23, 2012 at 11:58 AM

      bluejays have been bidding against themselves all winter long, they just took on some of what will go down as the worse contracts in history. Swisher is better then anybody the jays have in the outfield as well so what the hell are you talking about old man?

      • cshearing - Dec 23, 2012 at 12:07 PM

        Yes, Swisher is obviously better than Jose Bautista, everyone knows that!

      • proudlycanadian - Dec 23, 2012 at 12:15 PM

        Better than Jose Bautista? Harry old chum, that was one of the dumbest posts that you have ever made.

      • proudlycanadian - Dec 23, 2012 at 12:46 PM

        Hey Harry! It appears that a couple of people think that you have made some dumber posts than that bone headed comment.

      • cur68 - Dec 23, 2012 at 2:27 PM

        Well ‘harry your Swisher is better then anybody the jays have in the outfield has been adequately dealt with but the first part of what you have there deserves an answer, I think..

        bluejays have been bidding against themselves all winter long, they just took on some of what will go down as the worse contracts in history

        hmmm…what’s your yardstick for “worse contracts”? Judging by the commentary on this blog and what the bloggers themselves say, its going to be either Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Howard, Phat Albert Pujols or may be Josh Hamilton, right?

        So, the 2 big contracts Toronto just took on:

        Reyes: $10 million in 2013, $16 million in 2014, $22 million in each of the next three years and $4 million in 2018. That’s $96 million over 6 years. He’ll be 36 at the end of that.

        Buerhle: Owed $11MM in 2013, $18MM in 2014, and $19MM in 2015. That’s $48 million over 3 years. He’ll be 36 at the end of it.

        Lets compare, shall we?

        Ryan Howard: he got an extension when he was 30 in 2010 for 7 years. $125 guaranteed. Summed up with the rest of his contract, as of April of 2010, the Phillies were on the hook to pay Howard $164 million over 7 years. He’ll be 37 at the end of it.

        Phat Al, now: $240 million guaranteed till 2020. He’ll be 40 at the end.

        Josh Hamilton: $125 over 5 years. He’ll be 36

        And now, The Daddy of Contracts…Alex Rodriguez. Now, I hate to dump on Alex, but he’s a member of this team you claim to root for (seriously, when are you going to start doing that?).

        ARod: 10-year, $275 million extension after 2007. In 2017 ARod will be…wait for it…42. hmmmmm. One of these things is not like the other, eh?

        There are other gross over pays as well (one or two on The Empire), but I think I’ll stop there out of deference to people who root for some of these teams. No one likes salt rubbed in wounds.

        The fact of the matter is that Reyes & Buehrle don’t even come CLOSE to the kinds of overpay we see regularly touted as “the worst”. And please don’t cite “injury”. ARod, Phat Al, Ryan Howard & Hammy gonna be spending a fair amount of time DL-ing it for their contracts, eh?

        Have a good Christmas, ‘harry. Stay and stay out of trouble for the rest of the year, eh? Even parole officers need a break.

  3. vallewho - Dec 23, 2012 at 10:30 AM

    Poor Swish got boxed-in.

  4. mybrunoblog - Dec 23, 2012 at 10:32 AM

    Cleveland has problems with unemployment, crime and poverty. Now they’re stuck with Swisher for four years. That sucks.

    • Old Gator - Dec 23, 2012 at 12:04 PM

      Look on the bright side. The river is too wet to explode anymore.

  5. haterhurter937 - Dec 23, 2012 at 10:33 AM

    and this is why cleveland sucks and will continue to lose.

  6. Old Gator - Dec 23, 2012 at 10:34 AM

    Okay, all your Borg fans out there – Swisher’s gone. Ibanez is gone. A-Roid is laid up well into the season. Soriano is gone. Beep=Beep is one year away from Obamacare, and we still don’t know how badly the Mayans miscalculated. How does that lineup look now?

    • ezthinking - Dec 23, 2012 at 10:45 AM

      Ichiro, Jeter, Cano, Teix, Youk, Granderson, Nunez, Romine, Gardner – I’m not a Yankee fan, but that lineup will score about 800 runs again. Starting pitching will determine their fate.

      • temporarilyexiled - Dec 23, 2012 at 12:23 PM

        If that lineup scores 800 runs, it’s only because the rest of the AL East forgets how to pitch.

    • bigharold - Dec 23, 2012 at 1:46 PM

      “How does that lineup look now?”

      The view here from the bridge of the Death Star is looking surprisingly good. They have the AL East surrounded, .. the rest of the AL East just doesn’t know it yet!

  7. uuddlrlrbastart - Dec 23, 2012 at 10:35 AM

    Am I the only one who thinks this all feels rather Jason Bay-ish?

    • tashkalucy - Dec 23, 2012 at 1:06 PM


      To start with…..Swisher has never had a major injury.

      • uuddlrlrbastart - Dec 23, 2012 at 3:06 PM

        Neither had Jason Bay when he signed with the Mets.

        Four year contract with a vesting option for an outfielder on the wrong side of 30. This isn’t going to end well for the Indians.

      • anxovies - Dec 24, 2012 at 1:41 PM

        That’s true lucy, Swish is very athletic. People see him doing those rolling dives for balls in the outfield and think that it is him being comic but he never sprains a shoulder or an arm. He is also a pretty good hitter in the clutch during the season, notwithstanding the criticism about his post-season play. Not many other Yankees were hitting well in the post season during those years either. I don’t know if he is as good a player as Choo but Cleveland fans won’t be disappointed at his effort.

  8. butchhuskey - Dec 23, 2012 at 10:49 AM

    After they put his face on the scoreboard there was no way he could reject their offer.

  9. aresarrow - Dec 23, 2012 at 10:49 AM

    Incredibly overrated.

  10. dondada10 - Dec 23, 2012 at 10:50 AM

    Is there any commodity in sports right now valued higher than power?

    • indaburg - Dec 23, 2012 at 12:09 PM

      I don’t know across all sports but after seeing Greinke’s and Jackson’s contracts, one could argue adequate starting pitching in baseball is as highly valued.

  11. BrownsTown - Dec 23, 2012 at 10:54 AM

    Travis Hafner’s huge (at the time) deal expired this year and ownership is dealing with a hugely cynical and disinterested fanbase that doubts the Dolan commitment to winning. This explains much of the “why?”

  12. slartibartfast4242 - Dec 23, 2012 at 11:05 AM

    Swisher won’t have to be upset about his playoff failures anymore.

  13. trllturner18 - Dec 23, 2012 at 11:09 AM

    Way too much money they could’ve probably gotten him for 4yrs 30 mil. that’s a lot of money that they could’ve used on starting pitching or someone to back up Grady Sizemore ( because we all know he’s made of glass).

    • paperlions - Dec 23, 2012 at 11:16 AM

      Sizemore is a FA.

      $56M doesn’t buy you much starting pitching, and hasn’t for a long time.

      • trllturner18 - Dec 23, 2012 at 11:20 AM

        Oh didn’t know that. He’ll be lucky to get a minor league contract. and They have a decent core but I think they kinda out did themselves with this one. They should’ve used the Giants strategy grow from within use vets . It works 2 championships in 3 yrs proves that.

      • Kevin Gillman - Dec 23, 2012 at 1:51 PM

        trllturner, one thing Nick does have is experience, both in winning teams, and losing teams. Remember, they didn’t have any real veterans that could have helped that bad losing streak in August this past season, and everyone tried to do too much, one thing Nick has always done is keep the team light, and always have fun, whether it’s a big winning streak, or a long losing streak. Not to mention, he does have a ring, which goes a long way for the young players. The Indians do have some talent, and are now protected in the lineup to the point Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana do not have to do everything themselves, now, they have a guy who can easily drive in the runs if they don’t.

        As sad as it this seems, but this signing is the biggest free agent signing since bringing in Dennis Martinez and Eddie Murray back in 1994, but those two players sure helped the young players then, so why not now?

  14. pisano - Dec 23, 2012 at 11:10 AM

    Between Swisher and Cody Ross, it shows how a weak market can benefit two just above average outfielders, but good for them both.

  15. paperlions - Dec 23, 2012 at 11:14 AM

    This is a pretty good deal for Cleveland, how people don’t realize that Swisher has been very good is beyond me. For his career, he has a .361 OBP, .467 SLG, .359 wRC+, and 120 wOBA. Which is pretty good production, and cheaper (in AAV and years) than similar players. The extra 40 pts of OBP a player like Swisher gives his team compared to guys like Ross is highly valuable, that a lot more hitters coming to the plate each year with chances to produce runs.

    For those Dodger slappies that think Ethier would have got 5 years and $85M if he was a FA, he’s been essentially the same player (.362 OBP, .476 SLG, .361 wRC+, and 124 wOBA) and is only a year and a half younger. No way he gets 1 more year and $29M more dollars than Swisher in this market.

    • trllturner18 - Dec 23, 2012 at 11:22 AM

      At least the Dodgers didn’t get him. I hope the Giants re-sign Wilson but for maybe 2 yrs 10 mil? but I know he wont take that.

      • temporarilyexiled - Dec 23, 2012 at 12:27 PM

        I like the current, bearded closer just fine, thank you very much.

        You can argue whether Wilson’s antics are as sincere are Romo’s.

        Only one of those sets of antics makes me wince.

        Two Tommy John surgeries generally means the beginning of a different career.

    • dirtyharry1971 - Dec 23, 2012 at 12:00 PM

      maybe the smartest thing you ever written, cant believe im saying that but this wasnt a bad deal, wasnt a bargin but the indians got what they paid for which is respectable

    • tashkalucy - Dec 23, 2012 at 1:14 PM


      You’re one of the better posters here. So how about looking at the stats here between Swisher and Choo…..

      Swisher last year – .272 / .364 / 473
      Swisher career (9 years) – .256 / .361 / .467

      Choo last year – .283 / .373 / .441
      Choo career (8 years) .289 / .381 / .465

      Similar players. Swisher a bit more power, Choo more speed. Both stay fairly healthy. Both play a bit below average RF, but Choo has a cannon to make up for it.

      I see Swisher coming to the Indians as possibly working out in the way Pendelton going to the Braves worked out – a good MLB player that became a leader with a group of young guys and taught them how to win. Interesting that Francona played for Swisher’s father in the minors, and has known Nick since he was small. Francona got a guy in his clubhouse that that will be the bridge between the coaching staff and the players – a dynamic that the Indians neveer had under Shapiro-Antonetti as they hunker behind computers and glad-handle players, not having any other professional baseball experience in their background.

      • paperlions - Dec 23, 2012 at 1:45 PM

        I did look at the stats and Choo has been the better player, slighter better defender and better offensive players (especially once you take park into account). 20 pts of OBP over 8-9 years is HUGE.

      • tashkalucy - Dec 23, 2012 at 1:51 PM

        You are a sensational MLB fan!

      • japauley13 - Dec 24, 2012 at 1:36 PM

        you also have to take ino account that while swisher is a downgrade a little in batting average and OBP, he’s an upgrade in power which is what we lacked last yr.. but choo pretty much made it known he wouldn’t be back next year, having turned down 5 proposals.. with that said i would take Swisher, Bauer, Choo, Albers and Shaw over Choo, Jason Donald and Tony Sipp any day of the week. this club has improved immensly from last year. also add in mark reynolds 30-40hrs. and we still have 7 mil to work with to get our payroll the exact same as last yrs, thats including players arbitration salaries.

    • koufaxmitzvah - Dec 23, 2012 at 3:30 PM

      “For those Dodger slappies that think Ethier would have got 5 years and $85M if he was a FA, he’s been essentially the same player (.362 OBP, .476 SLG, .361 wRC+, and 124 wOBA) and is only a year and a half younger. No way he gets 1 more year and $29M more dollars than Swisher in this market.”

      Not only lame and extremely combative (the fascination of calling out Ethier has been yours alone) but quite telling in your inabilities to stick to subject matter and toot your own horn.

      I don’t like your stats, Paper. They don’t tell me shit. Avg, HR, RBI, OPS is all I need to decipher if a player is good for my team. Ethier, as overpaid as he is (and they’re all overpaid) is extremely consistent and a very good fielder. Whether or not you care about Gold Gloves doesn’t really matter to me when I really see is your prissy, whiny approach to the Dodgers, their fans, and folks who don’t happen to watch ball games the way you do.

      May Santa bring you a clue.

  16. johnnyb1976 - Dec 23, 2012 at 11:21 AM

    They traded Shoo away to sign swisher for roughly the same money? There’s a GM that is going to be fired after the season is over.

    • paperlions - Dec 23, 2012 at 12:00 PM

      Choo is only slightly better than Swisher and would have left for just a draft pick or been more expensive to re-sign that Swisher was to sigh. Now, they probably saved money and added a stud pitching prospect and a good defensive CF with upside.

      What would you rather have: Choo or Swisher, Stubbs, & Bauer? That’s not really a hard choice, is it?

    • Al - Dec 23, 2012 at 12:07 PM

      Choo is a Boras client. There’s no way he was going to resign with Cleveland, and if he’s decent this year it’s almost a sure bet that Boras will be able con someone into overpaying for him.

  17. dohpey28 - Dec 23, 2012 at 11:28 AM

    Well they will get what they pay for, a good regular season player. Since they won’t be making the playoffs, they don’t have to worry that he is one of the worst post season bats of all time.

  18. fightinphils8008 - Dec 23, 2012 at 11:38 AM

    cleveland is going to love watching him choke in the clutch and then smile while walking back to the dugout. I never figured out why it was so ammusing to K down by 1 with the bases juiced in the bottom of the 8th

  19. yankeepunk3000 - Dec 23, 2012 at 11:38 AM

    I being a Yankee fan am happy for swish and actually think they got him for a reasonable price…the guy can hit for average great OBP…good to very good power works the counts walks a ton. strong slugging…I always liked him and I really don’t know why so many Yankee fans hated him…yes in the playoffs he was Terrible but hell all our line up was a reck in the playoffs…season wise this guy got it done…and batted close to 270 or better…always like him great persona and club house guy…Indians are trying guys in a weak division espicially when they offered victorino 44 for 4. they gave swish 12 mil more but this guy is a much better solid signing plus he has hit the same in about 5 years so you know what your getting so not too much too worry about…only downside is his defense but eh…I lived with it…don’t be mad Indian fans I would look at this as a positive.

  20. Al - Dec 23, 2012 at 12:02 PM

    Considering that they could have ended up with Victorino for 4 years at $44 million, I think this is an extra $3m per year well spent.

  21. buffalomafia - Dec 23, 2012 at 12:09 PM

    Now trade A-Rod!!!!

  22. yankeepunk3000 - Dec 23, 2012 at 12:15 PM

    with all these contracts out this year 4 years is not a bad number…victorino got 4 napoli got 3 Ross got 3 with an option for 4 hell josh got 5!.. swish is the best signig out of all of them money and length..I still don’t understand so much hate…I get a rod but this dude did fine..we move on

  23. bigmeechy74 - Dec 23, 2012 at 12:26 PM

    I’d rather have swisher for half the price and one year less than josh hamilton

  24. allmyteamsareterrible - Dec 23, 2012 at 12:47 PM

    This is a good signing by the Tribe. Money doesn’t go as far as it used to in baseball, and he would have demanded similar compensation elsewhere.

    The importance of a switch hitting bat with some pop, in an Indians lineup that was devoid of right handed hitters, is a big deal.

    The tribe’s starting pitching is subpar but we have a decent lineup and possibly the best bullpen in baseball. Combine this with an annually weak central division, the tribe can compete.

    I can’t for the life of me understand how people could see this signing as a negative. The only thing I can come up with is you have no idea what the needs of the Indians are and you are basing your opinion of a bucket of ignorance.

  25. chucklewis13 - Dec 23, 2012 at 2:45 PM

    Where is the Jayson Werth ($123Mil) type money that Swish and his agent were seeking??????

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