The New York Yankees are not an organization that hands out contract extensions regularly. Nick Swisher is aware of this and has accepted the idea of testing free agency after the 2012 season. However, he does say that the New York Yankees is the team that he wants to be with. That’s what every impending free agent says though, right? Even if that is the case I get the feeling that he’s more genuine about it than most. Does that mean he’ll be willing to give the New York Yankees a home-town discount? I’m not sure, but I do think Brian Cashman and Co. should give strong consideration to re-signing Nick Swisher at the end of the season.
I have previously been lukewarm to the thought of signing Swisher to a long-term deal after this season, but I’ve slowly come around to the idea. A lot of fans these days – maybe Yankees fans to an even greater extent at this point – are against deals that lock up players into their mid-30’s. I can’t really blame them. After all, you figure a player peaks at around 29-30 and has his best stretch of years from 27-32. Statistically, everything after 32 tends to be a decline. This is generally speaking of course. Individual players peak and decline at different times, but this is the basic trend that gets applied to the population of baseball players as a whole. If Swisher follows this trend, fans could expect one more season of prime production before he enters his decline phase.
Even with the eventual decline expected, I think he could be a smart re-signing for the Yankees. First of all, I think the 27-32 prime age range has extended on the back end. With the advancements in exercise science, nutrition and technology, players are able to fend off the natural physical decline that their predecessors had no choice but to succumb to. Even if you’re not willing to accept that a player’s “new” prime has extended to ages 27-34, you have to at least recognize that the post-32 decline is much more gradual than in the past. Whichever way you look at it, the argument could be made that Swisher’s age won’t be a reason for the Yankees to shy away from him. Take a look at the back of some baseball cards, you’ll come across a lot of players that remained productive through their age-35 seasons. To be fair, you’ll probably find more that didn’t, but I think Swisher can join the former group. The fact that Swisher hasn’t had to deal with any major/chronic injuries (knock on wood) – particularly dealing with his back or hips – strengthens his case. Also, he’s not the type of player – a Jose Reyes or Carl Crawford type – whose game is predicated on supreme speed and/or athleticism. Losing a few ticks on his 60-yard dash times won’t effect his pitch selection or his solid power.
I know Nick Swisher is not the most exciting player in the game. He’s not flashy, doesn’t have a sweet home run swing or a bat flip tailor made for imitation on the Wiffleball field. I also know that there are more than a few fans out there disgusted by his postseason struggles. All of that said, Nick Swisher is a rock solid producer and a guy that would be a positive asset to New York Yankees squads in the future. I say the New York Yankees front office should make a point of keeping Nick Swisher in the Bronx beyond 2012.
For more discussion regarding the future of the New York Yankees’ offense, follow me on twitter @craigmwilliams.