(Smiling all the way to the bank. Courtesy of Herb Swanson/EPA)
Nick Swisher's future as a Yankee after the 2012 season has been a constant point of conversation this year, as he is the first big internal free agent candidate who could be affected by the future payroll plans. The conversation heated up this week after the Dodgers announced their new deal with Andre Ethier, with everybody chiming in on how they think the Ethier deal will affect Swish and his value on the open market. I'm one of the last chimers, so I'll just try to make my point short and sweet.
Nick Swisher is NOT going to be a Yankee after the 2012. He's just not. The Ethier deal sealed it. Ethier is having a better year right now, and is 1 year younger, but in almost every other category Swish at least equals if not exceeds Ethier's production. Since 2009, Swish has hit more HRs, driven in more runs, scored more runs, and drawn more walks than Ethier. His wRC+ is right in line with Ethier's, his wOBA is better, and overall Swish has been the better defensive right fielder (check FanGraphs if you want to compare the #s). Most importantly, Swish has been far more durable than Ethier, playing exactly 150 in each of his 3 seasons with the Yankees and at least 150 every season since 2006.
Personally, I think that 5 years/$85 million for Ethier is a bit excessive and I wouldn't have given him a contract that big. But what's done is done, and with Swish being an almost identical comparison to Ethier stats-wise, that's the bar that has been set for him. Any chance of getting a hometown discount for 3-4 years at $10-12 mil disappeared the moment Ethier signed his name on the dotted line, and with what he's done the past 3 seasons Swish would be a fool to want to go that route anyway.
To a certain degree, the Adam Jones contract probably also helped price Swish out of the Yankees' range. Yes, he's younger and plays a premium position in center, but 2012 is the first year that Jones has outperformed Swish, and their comparisons from past years are even further apart in Swish's favor than the comparisons between Ethier and Swish. Swish is certainly playing like he wants a big-money deal (lower BB rate, much higher swing rates), and even with his numbers taking a slight hit across the board he should still end up with 20-25 homers, 80-90 RBI, and a wOBA somewhere in the .340-.360 range. That added to his 2009-2011 totals probably would have been enough to get Swish a bigger contract than the Yankees could afford anyway. With what Andre Ethier just got handed, it all but guarantees it.
So soak up all the Swish experiences this year while you still can, Yankee fans. Because whenever the final out on the 2012 Yankee season is made, the next time you see Swish will be when he's wearing an opposing team's uni.