Grading the Cleveland Indians' Signing of Outfielder Nick Swisher

Ron JuckettContributor IIIDecember 23, 2012

The Cleveland Indians scored one of the better free agents left on the market on Sunday when they agreed to a four-year deal with Nick Swisher for $56 million, according to the New York Daily News' Mark Feinsand.

Feinsand broke the news via Twitter:

BREAKING: Nick Swisher has agreed to a four-year, $56 million deal with the Indians. Vesting $14M option for a 5th year could make it $70M.

— Mark Feinsand (@FeinsandNYDN) December 23, 2012

As the Indians assemble their team for the next few years, Swisher is a pretty good building block to have in place.

A consistent 20-plus home-run hitter who hit for a decent average with the New York Yankees, Swisher will help replace the run production lost with the trade of Shin-Soo Choo to the Cincinnati Reds.

His $14 million per season is just a million more than what the Boston Red Sox paid for Shane Victorino, and he is a better fit in Cleveland than Victorino is for Boston.

Swisher will play right field and can play first base and DH as well. His range factor per nine innings of 2.16 last year in right was better than the league average of 1.99.

He should also be helped a bit with the bigger outfield at Progressive Field.

Swisher is a character. He will be good in the clubhouse and play hard every day. Since 2006, Swisher has played at least 148 games every season.

He is not going to be the guy who wins a championship by himself, but he is one of the best role players in baseball. If you subscribe to the theory that one WAR should be worth $5 million, then his contract is a great value to the Indians. He had a WAR score last year of 3.5.

He will strike out his fair share, but his intangibles bring a lot to the table as new manager Terry Francona rebuilds the Tribe.


Follow me on Twitter at @ronjuckett.