Indians continue pursuit of Swisher, likely to visit tonight
December 17, 2012
The Indians have been talking to free agent outfielder Nick Swisher for several weeks now, and today they reportedly have intensified what was already a very aggressive pursuit. According to Buster Olney of ESPN, the Indians “are making a push in their effort to sign Swisher”.
The Indians tried to get Swisher to sign last week, but he put off making a decision in order to wait for the market to pick up for him after the Hamilton signing. His patience has likely paid off as he will probably get a much better deal than he anticipated this offseason.
Swisher, 32, hit .272 with 24 homers, 93 RBI and .837 OPS in 148 games with the Yankees last season. With the recent trade of outfielder Shin-Soo Choo to the Reds, the Indians are actively pursuing options to fill a glaring hole in right field. Swisher is the best option available in free agency and someone that the Indians have identified as a top target. He is a player the Indians have taken an aggressive approach with in contract negotiations, possibly similar to the negotiations for outfielder Shane Victorino who ended up declining their four year $44 million offer in order to sign with the Red Sox for three years $39 million.
Swisher was expected to come to town on Tuesday or Wednesday and speak face to face with the organization; however, according to Nick Camino of WTAM 1100 he has heard he will be in town tonight and will have dinner with Mark Shapiro and other Indians personnel. He along with his agent will likely not only continue to discuss the parameters of a contract, but he probably wants to get an idea of what the Indians plans are going forward and if he can win with the Indians.
The Indians have not simply just talked to Swisher and offered him a deal to get their names in the headlines in order to sound like they are doing something. For Swisher to come to town for a visit implies that the Indians are very serious in their offer to sign him, and he is very much considering him.
But no matter what the Indians say or offer, Swisher is expected to leave town without a deal and visit other teams that are also pursuing him. There has been no mention where else he may visit or when, but three other teams said to be interested in him are the Mariners, Rangers and Red Sox. Considering he is visiting teams this week it looks like he wants to make a decision on who to sign with this weekend in advance of the Christmas holiday.
The Rangers appear to be the biggest threat to the Indians as they lost outfielder Josh Hamilton last week to the Angels and have lost several other players this offseason, so they will probably look to make a splash and bring in a player that can help offset some of the offense lost by Hamilton’s departure. The Rangers have a need and have a much deeper wallet than the Indians, which is why no matter how hard the Indians pursue Swisher, the Rangers still appear to be his likely landing spot. The Red Sox interest appears to be limited, but could change if the Mike Napoli deal does not go through.
Unfortunately, in the end, Swisher may just use the Indians to drive up the price for the Rangers before he signs with them since they have a better chance of winning. But whether or not he signs with the Indians, they have been very aggressive in trying to sign him and other free agents, and they will continue to do so with or without him.
Follow Tony and the Indians Prospect Insider on Twitter @TonyIBI. Also, his new book the 2013 Cleveland Indians Baseball Insider which profiles the Indians' Top 100 Prospects and more is available for sale.