The New York Yankees weren’t ready to break the bank for Nick Swisher. But the Cleveland Indians were happy to oblige.
Terry Francona‘s new club emerged from “a half-dozen teams” to win over Swisher with a four-year, $56 million deal that includes a fifth-year vesting option of $14 million based on plate appearances, according to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News. Swisher, 32, was also pursued by the Rangers, Mariners, Red Sox and Orioles.
The Yankees had appeared reticent to bring back Swisher, knowing he would command big dollars on the free-agent market after putting up strong numbers over four years in New York. The Yankees are working to get below the luxury tax threshold and have been saving space to re-sign center fielder Curtis Granderson and second baseman Robinson Cano after next season. Most of New York’s moves this offseason have been on short-term deals with older players.
The Indians went to great lengths to woo Swisher, bringing him in for a visit where he rubbed shoulders with some of Ohio sports’ biggest names. Swisher’s connection with Francona, who knew Swisher when Swisher’s father, Steve, was a minor league manager, was also a factor, Feinsand reports.
Swisher averaged 36 home runs and 87 RBIs with the Yankees over four seasons, although his dismal performance in last year’s postseason soured his relationship with the local fans.