Trick question, suckers: It is always time to bro it down with Nick Swisher. Nick Swisher exists in a state of perpetual bro-down, draped in Ed Hardy and marked, undoubtedly, by ever-flowing Jaegermeister, virulent chest-bumping, thumping technopop and an array of macho gestures unintelligible to anyone but the broiest of bros.
But as it pertains to the Mets, the possibility of Nick Swisher broing it down in Flushing is discussed here only because it came up through a Twitter hoax yesterday and because the Mets still desperately need outfielders.
Though occasionally infuriating, Swisher is a good player. As a switch hitter who has been slightly better from the right side across his career, he could fill the Mets’ need for a right-handed bat in the outfield without requiring a platoon hedge. Outside of a down season in 2009 that was at least partly induced by a low batting average on balls in play, he has been a remarkably consistent (and very good) performer, posting a park- and league-adjusted OPS+ in the 120s in 2006 and 2007 and in every season from 2010 to 2012. By defensive metrics, he is about an average defender in right field. Swisher turned 32 in November, but he has not played in fewer than 148 games in any season since 2005. As an added bonus, he can fill in at first base if necessary.
So yes, if the Mets had plenty of money to spend or the Mets were the only team bidding on Swisher’s services this offseason, he’d seem a damn near perfect fit for a club without a single outfielder under contract who has ever played 148 games in a year or managed a 120 OPS+ for a full season — the things, again, Swisher does reliably.
But all that matters are the things we don’t know: Namely, how much money the Mets have to spend this offseason and how much it will cost to acquire Swisher. The Indians have a widely reported offer on Swisher’s table — presumably right next to the pile of empty Red Bull cans, under last month’s Maxim — believed to be for about four years and $52 million.
That doesn’t sound like something the Mets could afford or even something they should be willing to part with for a 32-year-old outfielder who will cost them their 11th overall draft pick, and who’s good but not good enough to make them certain contenders in 2013. So if everything is as it currently appears: No, the Mets should not bro it down with Nick Swisher this offseason.
There are a couple of wild cards, though, however unlikely. Swisher is married to actress Joanna Garcia and, per that Jon Heyman report linked above, “loved New York” and has unrequited interest in the Dodgers. It seems to me that $13 million a year should be enough money to charter flights from anywhere in the country to New York or L.A. when Ms. Garcia needs to audition or work, so I’m not sure how much stock I’d put in Swisher’s preference for the coasts. But if the convenience of living in New York appeals to the Swishers enough to afford the Mets some sort of discount, the outlook becomes murkier.
Also, we keep hearing that the Mets will spend in free agency after the 2013 season, when more money comes off the books, and the team has a better understanding of its particular needs and is closer to contention. But though a lot could change between now and next offseason, the list of free agents for 2014 does not appear overwhelming. If the Mets could find room in their 2013 budget to pay Swisher, would Swisher on a three-year deal starting in 2014 be more appealing than the alternative free-agent options that offseason? The team’s need for outfielders probably isn’t going away, and there are a few but not a ton to choose from slated for next offseason’s market.
Meh, I still probably say no, if only because one year’s worth of information on next season’s free agents plus the draft pick might be worth more than the prospect of having Swisher at a then-somewhat-reasonable rate, since Swisher, for all his consistency to date, is still a human subject to all the same awful whims as the rest of us. Plus, the Mets’ signing Swisher now would interfere with my own personal pipedream: The team landing a different switch-hitting corner outfielder next year to lead them to postseason glory.