To “eliminate” speculation of his possible departure from the Yankees, Nick Swisher‘s 2012 contract option for $10.25 million was exercised last night.
This means almost nothing in terms of Swisher’s future with the club if they decide they want to upgrade right field with a Carlos Beltran. Had they let Swisher go, they would’ve been at the mercy of the agents or teams they’d approach for the potential replacements—Beltran, Michael Cuddyer, Justin Upton and others—so of course they’re not going to leave themselves without Swisher and in glaring need of an outfield bat.
If the option was declined, there was every chance that Swisher might wind up in Boston playing right field for the Red Sox or in Toronto as a part-time 1st baseman, right fielder and DH for the Blue Jays.
The Yankees don’t want that.
Exercising it gives them flexibility. They can still go after another outfield bat and then trade Swisher without the onus of desperation hanging over their heads and the accompanying need to overpay for a player they might not really want to replace Swisher.
Swisher has a limited no-trade clause to six teams. He’d be in demand and the Yankees might be able to acquire a Jonathan Sanchez-type from the Giants for that bat/on-base skills and likable gregariousness.
Billy Beane is known to love Swisher and the Athletics have pitching to spare in the rotation and bullpen.
The overwhelming likelihood is that Swisher will be a Yankee next year. He’s a known commodity, well-liked and can play first base as well as right field; but don’t believe that he’s definitely coming back. They can still trade him. And it would be silly not to explore the market.