According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Giants are one of the many teams interested in free agent outfielder Nick Swisher. Their interest is measurable given the fact that they could lose Angel Pagan in free agency, and Gregor Blanco’s inconsistent trends. So if San Francisco prefer to continue their winning ways, they would be wise to compensate for a hole in left field and possibly centerfield.
What Swisher Would Bring To The Table
Probably the most intriguing facet to Swisher’s skill set from the Giants’ perspective, is the fact that he is very versatile. Last year he mainly served as the Yankees’ everyday right fielder, playing 109 games at that spot. For what it’s worth, he also totaled 35 games at first base. Although, over the course of his career, he has also garnered some experience in left field and centerfield.
With a declining body, the prospects of Swisher returning to centerfield are pretty much shot, but he’s capable of playing both corner outfield spots, and obviously first base. Additionally, he can be plugged in at practically any spot in the lineup, with the exception first, obviously.
In fact , his career splits show that he indeed has batted in each lineup spot at some point in his career, but in 2012 he was held in check a tad more, batting second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh. The switch-hitting Swisher was most successful when hitting fifth, registering an OPS north of 1.000 in 23 games. Ironically, if the Giants were to acquire him, that would be a foreseeable spot to feature him in, behind Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval.
Offensively, Swisher’s versatility on defense and in the lineup rolls over. Throughout his career he has proven to be a consistent contributor in a wide variety of categories. With that in mind , though, he isn’t especially dominant in a single category like Josh Hamilton is with his home run totals or Michael Bourn is with stolen bases. Basically, he doesn’t have a specific niche, per se.
While finding your niche is a wise road to take, Swisher’s consistent production across the board is what makes him a unique asset. So in a sense , that’s his niche. It’s a rather broad niche, but it fits the criteria. And that trait would fit in well with the Giants, and more specifically AT&T Park.
For the Giants, he would join a group of quirky guys, and for AT&T Park, he wouldn’t be so susceptible to falling into constant slumps because his power numbers would surely decrease. So he would presumably have to produce in other fashions, which he certainly can.
This year, Swisher tripled slashed for .272/.364/.473, and also compiled 93 RBIs on 24 home runs. As for the advanced metrics, his WAR checks in at 3.9, and his UZR at 3.7. So in English, he has had better years, but his RBI and home run outputs would both rank in top three on the Giants’ roster, and his WAR would rank fourth. In other words , he is an upgrade for Bruce Bochy’s club. The only department that Swisher doesn’t thrive in, is the stolen bases department, as his career total is only 12.
Assuming that most of Swisher’s action would come in left field, there wouldn’t be many bold concerns defensively. The only predictable complication could be the spacious gap in left centerfield.
Why Signing Swisher Makes Sense For The Giants
Gregor Blanco had a good stint with the Giants as their everyday left fielder after Melky Cabrera was suspended, but a more proven and consistent left fielder would seemingly be a wiser route to embark on. Blanco will come in handy, but a starting role is something that isn’t in his toolbox. He performed adequately for a fraction of games, sure, but over 150-plus games, he probably can’t replicate short streaks.
So, adding Swisher into the mix would eliminate most concerns regarding left field.
Out of the deep crop of outfielders, Swisher is probably the best fit for the Giants. He can play multiple positions, is a switch-hitter, and fits in with the group of guys that they already have. Talent-wise, he isn’t the best. Josh Hamilton deserves that honor. Frankly, Swisher barely breaks the top eight outfielders when dissecting this year’s outfield free agent class. That’s debatable, though.
But the Giants didn’t win a World Series by acquiring the most talented players. Instead, management predicated their additions based on good fits. Marco Scutaro, for example, was projected to be a meager utility infielder for San Francisco, at best. We all know how that story ends. While the Dodgers added the elite commodities, they never gelled properly.
A surplus of talent will undoubtedly win games eventually, don’t get me wrong, but only a few teams have won championship predicated on prolific checkbook. The Yankees kept that tale alive in 2009 when they practically bought their way to a championship, and the Dodgers are seeking to mirror their approach. Slowly, that trend is diminishing, though, and new straggles to winning are being the developed. In essence , the Giants are ahead of the game in that regard because they have built their team around pitching and a pair cornerstone pieces offensively.
How Would The Signing Of Swisher Affect The Giants’ Payroll?
Swisher wouldn’t come cheap by any stretch of the imagination, but he isn’t going to draw Hamilton or Upton type money. In terms of the length of a potential contract, that number shouldn’t exceed five years. At this point in the off season, it appears as if his demands are a bit lofty, but all players have to set their demands high at first. After the market takes shapes, said player’s interests generally become more realistic.
Whether or Swisher’s demands budge, the Giants can afford his services either way. Most notably, Aubrey Huff and Aaron Rowand, who both made a good sized chunk of cash in 2012, are scheduled to come the Giants’ books this off season.
This year, their opening day payroll equaled roughly $131 million. An increase is feasible, especially considering the revenue they will receive from winning a World Series and all the tidbits that come with the coveted accomplishment. Take their first World Series victory for example. From the beginning of the 2010 season to the beginning of 2011, the Giants’ payroll ballooned from $96 million to $118 million. Winning the title had a lot to do with that mighty increase.
Simply put, the Giants wouldn’t run into many problems financially if they were to sign Swisher.