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Indians Sign Outfielder Nick Swisher to Four-Year Deal

Outfielder will be with the Tribe through at least 2016 and will make a reported $56 million

 

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Merry Christmas Cleveland Indians fans, your team has finally made a move that you can be proud of!

After years of complaining that Indians’ ownership wouldn’t spend money on free agents, this offseason has shown that the Dolans might be coming around and are learning that in order to make money, you have to spend some money in the process. The Indians have agreed to terms with Nick Swisher on a four-year deal that will pay him $56 million in guaranteed money, and the club holds an option for 2017 depending on the number of plate appearances Swisher makes during the 2016 season. The option could sweeten the deal to as much as $70 million overall.

Swisher fills a big hole in right field after the Tribe dealt away Shin-Soo Choo last week to the Cincinnati Reds. Swisher spent the last four seasons with the Yankees and averaged .268 with 26 homers and 87 RBIs per season for the Bronx Bombers. Overall, Swisher has a career average of .256 with a .361 on-base percentage and a .467 slugging percentage in nine big-league seasons with the A’s, White Sox and Yankees. The biggest upside to signing the 32-year old outfielder is that he has averaged 151 games over the past seven seasons. The Indians need a player with that kind of reliability given that Choo missed significant time in each of the past three seasons, and outfielder Grady Sizemore didn’t play in a single game in 2012, and missed large chunks of the 2009, 2010 and 2011 campaigns as well. If Swisher can be a dependable outfielder, give the Tribe 150 games, a .280 season, 25 homers and drive in 90 runs, the $56 million will be money well spent.

Swisher turned down a one-year, $13.3 million offer from the Yankees to test the free agent market this offseason and the Indians immediately turned their attention to Swisher’s Ohio roots to try to lure him into their fold. Swisher was born in Columbus, and attended Ohio State University where he played baseball for the Buckeyes. Swisher’s father, Steve attended Ohio University in Athens. To entice Swisher into signing with the Tribe, GM Chris Antonetti and Team President Mark Shapiro invited former OSU football coach Jim Tressel to Progressive Field to meet with the outfielder last week. The Indians also had a picture of Swisher in an Indians uniform on the scoreboard at Progressive Field during his visit, and played a special video message from current Buckeye football coach Urban Meyer and basketball coach Thad Matta among others.

With Swisher now officially a member of the 2013 ball club, the Indians now must turn their focus to finding a full-time DH to replace free agent Travis Hafner, and adding another arm to their shaky starting rotation. The Tribe signed Scott Kazmir to a Minor League deal this week and will have him in camp this spring to compete for a roll either in the starting rotation or the bullpen, but they need to seriously address their lack of starting pitching by signing a veteran free agent to supplement a rotation that currently looks to have some serious holes in it.

 

 

By Robert Gonzalez
Cleveland Indians Correspondent

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