Aug 2, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians designated hitter Nick Swisher (33) reacts after striking out during the fourth inning against the Texas Rangers at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Nick Swisher was a major thorn in the Tribe’s side this year, unable to hit for the majority of the season and swallowing nearly a fifth of the Tribe’s payroll. In order to become a competitive team in 2015, the Indians either need him to rebound dramatically next year, or dump his salary on another team.
We chose the latter.
After in-depth discussions with the Cubs, Red Sox and Giants, we finally found a trade partner for Nick Swisher in the FanSided Faux-Winter Meetings simulation. The Miami Marlins have been looking for a player to combine with Garrett Jones at first base, and Swisher could end up being that player for them. We actually got much more value than we expected for a 33 year-old player coming off a negative WAR season plagued by injuries and a $15 million salary.
At first approach, the Marlins mentioned to us that they were looking for a first or second baseman. We figured it could be the perfect chance to clear up space for Francisco Lindor to play shortstop in the big leagues. After exploring trades involving sending Jose Ramirez or Jason Kipnis in return for left-hannded top prospect Andrew Heaney, it was clear that the Marlins valued Heaney more than we did. It was also apparent that the Marlins had little interest in Ramirez, and did not value Jason Kipnis’ contract to the extent that we did.
However, the Marlins then asked us about Swisher. We were very excited at first, as we were willing to pay part his salary in return for next to nothing during initial talks with the Red Sox and Giants. The Marlins, however, were high on him and had a definite need for a first baseman (a position the Indians have filled). We initially asked for their number four overall prospect Justin Nicolino, but when the Marlins asked us to throw in $5 million and also take on Casey McGehee‘s salary in return, we knew we wouldn’t be getting the kind of salary relief we were looking for. We also weren’t interested in a below-average third baseman taking up a roster spot.
After it became clear that Justin Nicolino wasn’t a viable target, we brought up the name Trevor Williams. Williams is the Marlins’ number six overall prospect (incidentally, five of their top six prospects are pitchers), and has enough upside for us to feel comfortable giving up on a rebound campaign from Swisher. The next roadblock, however, was the fact that the Marlins were nearing their expected budget and couldn’t take on Swisher’s entire 2015 salary. While we probably would have been willing to throw in the $6 million necessary to get a deal done without even getting another piece in return, we were able to coax the Marlins into including number 12 overall prospect Jarlin Garcia. Although he may end up as a bullpen arm, his fastball and curve along with a clean delivery and advanced mechanics give him some upside.
The end result was Cleveland sending Swisher and $6 million to Miami, receiving Williams and Garcia in return. The Indians, although they have a wealth of starting pitching at the major-league level, are somewhat lacking talented pitching prospects in the minor-league system. This move adds some decent upside arms to both the AA level and the low minors, helping to solve that issue.
By moving $9 million of Nick Swisher’s 2015 salary (not to mention the entirety of his salary for 2016), the Indians payroll sits at about $68.5 million in the Winter Meetings simulation.
Do you think the Indians did well in the return for Nick Swisher? We encourage you to comment below, or tweet us at @wahoosonfirst