The free agency hoedown has begun. The Yankees cut their list of decisions down by two over the weekend by picking up options on Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher for $14 and $10.25 million, respectively, no-brainers, particularly in the case of Cano.
There have been some random rumbling that the Yankees will look for an upgrade in right field, a nice idea but something of an impractical one. Yes, Swisher started cold, finished cold, and stayed cold right into the playoffs (he has been a miserable postseason player in his career, hitting .169/.295/.323 in 38 games), but in between he hit .305/.418/.556, bringing his overall production more or less in line with the rest of his pinstriped production—his True Averages for his three seasons have been .295, .304, and .293. Overall, he was one of the top 10 right fielders in the majors last year—there are only so many supermen out there right now.
I’ve seen Carlos Beltran’s name bandied about as someone who would be an upgrade for the Yankees, and a possibility should Swisher’s option being picked up serve as prelude to a trade. I hate to disillusion anyone, but Beltran wasn’t 10 percent better than Swisher last year. Beltran homered every 24 at-bats, Swisher every 23 at-bats. Beltran walked in 12 percent of his plate appearances, Swisher in 15 percent of his. The main difference was Swisher hit .260 and Beltran hit .300 in roughly an identical number of at-bats, so I put it to you: should the Yankees throw over Swisher for Beltran, when the latter is likely more expensive, definitely older, definitely worse on defense, and 100 percent more prone to injury, over a difference of about 20 hits, most of them singles?