For as much fun as it is to look back at Brian Cashman acquiring Didi Gregorius for Shane Greene, it will be difficult for any trade to truly rival the Nick Swisher deal. In exchange for Wilson Betemit and a couple of minor leaguers, Cashman added a man who was pivotal to 2009 World Series title and someone who smacked 105 homers in just four seasons of play in the Bronx. Even if his postseasons were less than stellar, Swisher will always be fondly remembered by Yankee Stadium fans.
Swisher has fallen on tough times in recent years though. He left the Yankees (who didn't pursue him) during the 2012-13 off-season on a four-year, $56 million contract with the Cleveland Indians. After a productive first season that saw the Indians reach the Wild Card game, Swisher fell apart due to injuries. A hyperextended knee that eventually led to surgery severely cut into his production, taking him all the way down to a .208/.278/.331 triple slash with just eight homers in 97 games.
Recovery from the knee surgery prevented Swisher from making his 2015 debut until May 5th, and he was only with the team for a little over a month before landing back on the DL with more inflammation. He never played another game in a Cleveland uniform, and "Brohio" was no more. In an exchange of bad contracts, Swisher and fellow poor investment Michael Bourn were shipped to the Atlanta Braves for third baseman Chris Johnson. That was where he finished up the season, which overall was another underwhelming showing: .196/.312/.320 with six homers and a 75 OPS+ in 76 games.
Entering the last year of his contract with a decent chunk already on Cleveland's budget, the rebuilding Braves recently decided that Swisher wasn't worth a roster spot in 2016:
#Braves have released Nick Swisher, who's owed $15 million— David O'Brien (@DOBrienAJC) March 28, 2016
So now Swisher is looking for a new job, but he has the benefit of coming with a near-free price tag. Atlanta and Cleveland are on the hook for that $15 million, so whoever wants to give Swisher a shot would only have to pay him the league minimum. So does a reunion with the Yankees on their bench a la 2005 Tino Martinez make any sense?
For what it's worth, Swisher did seem to play better after regaining his health late last year in Atlanta. He had a 95 OPS+ with nine extra-base hits (including four homers) in 46 games with the Braves. That's not really good for a starter, but perhaps in a more limited role that rests his knees more, there would be something left in the tank. Switch-hitting bats off the bench can be hard to find, and the Yankees have done well finding veterans to fill similar roles over the past couple decades, going back to the days of Tim Raines and Darryl Strawberry.
Swisher's defensive limitations probably make this a near-impossibility though. He was able to fake it a little bit in left field and right field over the past couple years, but he's basically a first baseman at this point. He might have more experience there than Dustin Ackley, but the latter's ability to still decently play the outfield likely outweighs Swisher's hitting potential. It's difficult to know what to expect from a 35-year-old on balky knees at this point in his career.
So while it is a fun idea, it almost certainly makes more sense to settle for a Swisher reunion when it's time for his Old-Timers' Day invitation to come in the mail. If this is the end of the road, happy trails Swish.