Swisher Changes Hands Again

The New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox made a trade this afternoon. Based on reports, Nick Swisher and Kanekoa Texeira are headed to the Yankees in exchange for Jeff Marquez, Jhonny Nunez and Wilson Betemit.

The biggest name here is obviously Nick Swisher, who lasts just a single year in Chicago after coming over in a trade from Oakland prior to the 2008 season. He clearly did not fulfill the expectations that Kenny Williams had, but was it the right time to move on?

Looking at what most would call the advanced or peripheral and what I call the core stats, Swisher’s walk and strikeout rate rose a little over his career rates, but for all intents and purpose, show no major skill change. Swisher’s ground ball versus fly ball remained within reason as well, but he did see a sizable jump in his line drive rate, which is a positive sign. His home run per fly ball rate also stayed around career norms, indicating that he didn’t really lose anything in power, though there is the park to consider.

Discipline wise, Swisher swung incrementally more often over 2007, but less than he did 2005 or 2006. Swisher also posted his highest contact rate since 2005, up from 77.2% last year to 79% this year. So if his power remained the same, his discipline remained the same and his contact actually improved, how did he have such a poor season? In a word, luck. Remember that improved line drive rate I mentioned above, well despite that Swisher saw his BABIP from from .308 to a horribly unlucky .251. That’s pretty much it and for the future, you would expect that to rebound.

Swisher has three years and 22 million left on his contract with a 2012 option at an additional $9.25M. Assuming roughly average defense and Tango’s positional adjustments for the corner outfield and first base, where it seems likely Swisher will play, Swisher grades out somewhere around two to three wins, more if his bat comes all the way back or if his defense is above average. At just over $7 million per year, that makes Swisher a pretty solid bargain. In return for that and a decent looking minor league hurler in Texeira, the Yankees are sending back incredibly little.

Jeff Marquez reached Triple-A this year at 23, but while there saw his ground ball rates fall to down to average and had trouble generating strikeouts. Jhonny Nunez reached Double-A in the bullpen but has spent most of his time in the rotation. While there, he’s shown some ability to get strikeouts, but is just average at keeping the ball on the ground and really, is too far off to project much based on the numbers. Wilson Betemit has some power, but has some problems drawing walks.

All in all, this looks like a clear win for the Yankees, to the point that I’m betting that there are more than a few GMs out there upset they didn’t get in on the chance to acquire Swisher at this level of a discount.

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Matthew Carruth is a software engineer who has been fascinated with baseball statistics since age five. When not dissecting baseball, he is watching hockey or playing soccer.

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