Nick Swisher is set to hit the free-agent market for the first time this winter and Jon Heyman of CBS Sports suggests the New York Yankees right fielder will be seeking a contract similar to Jayson Werth's.
That's seven years and $126 million for those of you who don't remember when the bearded one was showered with bills by a Washington Nationals ownership seeking to prove they were serious or contenders ... or something. But as Heyman points out, Swisher and his agents wouldn't be misguided to roll out Werth's paper as a measuring stick. Swisher's age and numbers will be similar to what Werth was wielding at the time of his free agency after the 2010 season and Swisher has been his usual consistent self in 2012, posting a .271/.356/.482 slash line that is around his career average.
But as far as Swisher receiving that big of a contract to take him through his age 38 season? I still have my doubts. Here are five reasons ol' Swish might want to readjust his expectations:
1. The Yankees won't pay it: There's no question New York would love to keep Swisher around and it's been speculated that they will indeed offer him a contract come offseason. At the very least, they'll tender him a one-year offer to get the compensation picks that would come if Swisher jumps ship to a new team.
But the days of the free-spending Boss has been over for some time now and the Yankees are in a position where they'd like to get under the $189 million luxury tax threshold in 2013. Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson will also be in need of new contracts after the 2013 season and it's hard to imagine the Yankees putting a big dent in that future budget to overpay Swisher now.
ESPN New York's Wallace Matthews makes a good point, however, when he suggests that a big October for Swisher could hit an emotional note in the team's spreadsheet and help extend his stay in the Bronx. Re-signing a World Series hero like Swisher and letting Granderson go after the 2013 season would keep the Yanks' outfield intact for another season, but there's no guarantee that such a retention would come with Swisher getting Werth money.
2. Neither will the Dodgers: Unfortunately for Swisher, the market is littered with teams still suffering from ill-advised free-agent deals for outfielders. Boston has Carl Crawford, Chicago has Alfonso Soriano and New York has Jason Bay. That leaves Magic's Dodgers as the lone fat cat capable of doling out $126 million. But between Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Cuban prospect Yasiel Puig, the Dodgers have committed $287 million to the future of their outfield. All of their wealth is going to be spent chasing pitching.
3. Just because the Nationals did it doesn't mean someone else will: The news of Werth striking it rich at the 2010 winter meetings was instantly derided by many front office types. Both Werth and Crawford serve as two very visible cautionary tales should any GM start collecting the change in their couch cushions come winter. Then again, all it takes is one determined GM (or meddlesome owner) to make Swisher a very rich man.
4. Werth was/is more versatile: As Heyman points out, Werth is capable of playing center field and can steal more bases than Swisher. The ability to DH or permanently move to first base won't count as versatility once negotiations begin.
5. The rest of the free-agent class: The upcoming free-agent class includes outfielders like Josh Hamilton, B.J. Upton, Shane Victorino, Michael Bourn and Melky Cabrera. If teams really want to chase an expensive game-changer, they can go after Hamilton. If they want value with less of a commitment, it's there too. Swisher is somewhere in the middle and it's going to take every ounce of his agent's ability and creativity to land a deal that mirrors Jayson Werth's.