While we are all sitting here absorbing the shock of Josh Hamilton’s new enormous contract with the Angels, a fellow free agent outfielder is making his 2013 plans, albeit at a much lower pricetag.
Since becoming a full time regular in 2005, Nick Swisher has been a model of consistency. Aside from his 35 home run outburst in 2006, he has hit between 21 and 29 home runs in every full season in his big league career. He has hit 30+ doubles each of the past 4 years, and has scored between 75 and 106 runs in 7 straight seasons. Swisher’s OPS+ has also been 120+ in 6 of the past 7 years. And since 2006, his walk rate has only dipped below 12% once (2010). Since 2005, he has accumulated a 26.3 WAR (via Fangraphs), averaging 3.3 wins above replacement per season.
The fact is, Swisher excels at parts of the game that traditionalists overlook, such as getting on base and position versatility. Swisher can play all 3 outfield positions as well as first base. And he can play all but center field at an adequate level. These factors alone make Swisher an extremely valuable player, and an underrated one as well.
With Josh Hamilton off the board, Swisher is now the top free agent bat on the market, and he could be in line for a nice payday. Most estimate Swisher to be getting a contract around 4 years with an average annual value in the $12-$15 million range. It definitely would not surprise me if he ended up getting a contract worth 4/$60. There are a number of teams rumored to be interested in his services including the Rangers (who are looking for an outfielder now that they lost Hamilton and Justin Upton), Mariners, and Indians. (more…)