We learned yesterday that the Cleveland Indians were pushing hard to sign free agent outfield Nick Swisher, who has also been connected in some form or another to a handful of other teams, including the Red Sox, Giants, Mariners, and Orioles. After Boston inked Shane Victorino and San Francisco spent $78 million to keep their club together, Jon Heyman thinks this could be a three horse race.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 6, 2012
The Mariners and Indians are the most likely destinations for the switch-hitting corner outfielder and my guess is that the Ohio State product would be open to playing in Cleveland under new manager Terry Francona, who has been recruiting the former Yankee. Seattle’s interest is real as well, but they probably cannot afford to add both Swisher and Josh Hamilton, whom they are still pursuing.
Swisher has consistently produced better than 20 home runs per season and has an excellent approach at the plate. He’s a solid defender who can also play first base if needed and, by all accounts, an asset in the clubhouse. While the Orioles don’t view him as the middle-of-the-order bat they seek, he would provide an instant upgrade to the offenses of either the Indians or Mariners.
The best fit for him, however, lies in San Francisco. Adding a quality hitter like Swisher to the Giants’ lineup would be a big step toward keeping the Dodgers at bay in the NL West. San Francisco cannot outspend Los Angeles, so they need to make smart decisions with their money. While Swisher would stretch the budget perhaps beyond its limit in 2013, the Giants have over $40 million coming off the books at the end of the 2013 season when both Tim Lincecum and Barry Zito are eligible for free agency.