Signing Nick Swisher would cost the Tigers their first round pick now that he declined the Yankees' qualifying offer, but he would be a big upgrade in right field for 2013 and beyond.
As Patrick outlined earlier this morning, each of the nine players that were extended qualifying offers by their 2012 clubs declined the offers and became free agents. Among those players is New York Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher, who is one of the more intriguing names on the list because of his falling out with the Yankees fanbase during the postseason.
Who is he?
Swisher is a versatile 31 year old switch-hitter who can play both outfield and first base. Since the Tigers already have a decent option manning first, Swisher would be the everyday right fielder in Detroit. He hit .272/.363/.473 last season with 24 home runs and 93 RBIs in 148 games for the Yankees.
Why should we care?
Consistency, for one. Last season was the first time Swisher didn't play at least 150 games since the 2005 season, and even then I'm splitting hairs over two games. My point? He plays everyday and puts up good numbers to boot. Swisher hit .268/.367/.483 in his four years with the Yankees, hitting 105 home runs in the process.
Speaking of consistency, Swisher hits both right-handed and left-handed pitching equally well. He is a .250/.342/.478 hitter off of righties and a .270/.402/.441 hitter off lefties for his career. Swisher put up better power numbers against right-handers last season -- he slugged .517 off righties compared to just .389 off lefties -- but don't give all the credit to Yankee Stadium's short porch in right field. Swisher hit eight of his 11 home runs at home off of righties last year, but hit 11 of his 13 homers on the road as a left-handed hitter as well. This seems to be a year-to-year phase, as Swisher crushed lefties more in 2011.
Why should we stay away?
He isn't very fast and his glove isn't that great, but the real reason to stay away from Swisher is money. He will be 32 on Opening Day 2013 and won't be nearly the player that he is now when his power starts to evaporate with age. Swish will be looking for $12-15 million per year (if not more) for at least four years, money that the Tigers can use more effectively in other places.
Will he end up in Detroit?
It's possible, but doubtful. Swisher probably won't return to the Yankees after getting booed mercilessly during the playoffs last season, even going so far as to say it soured his relationship with the fanbase. There are rumors going around that he is looking for a big market to appease his wife, actress Joanna Garcia, so there's a small chance that she vetoes a move to Detroit -- similar to the rumors we heard about Johnny Damon's wife in 2010.
Family matters aside, it seems like the Tigers are content on looking for a short-term option in the outfield. They might go big, but that would likely involve a name like Josh Hamilton or Justin Upton. Call me crazy, but I have an inkling that Swisher ends up in Baltimore next season.