The acquisition of Mark Teixeira further clogged the Yankee roster with outfield/DH types. Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon, Nick Swisher, Xavier Nady, Brett Gardner and Melky Cabrera will all do battle in Spring Training in hopes of landing significant time in the outfield or at DH. While this may not be an untenable situation (Matsui and Damon aren't getting any younger), the Yanks do have a surplus right now.
With that surplus in mind, rumors are swirling about the Yanks trying to make a deal.
Damon isn't going anywhere. He's the lead-off hitter and extremely important to the success of the team. Matsui would be nearly impossible to move due to his health concerns and full no-trade clause. Either Gardner or Melky will have to man center field, so while the other may be expendable, their affordable salaries make them less likely to move.
This leaves us with Nick Swisher and Xavier Nady. It looks like one of those guys will be moved at some point, and Ken Davidoff says the Yanks want the odd man out to be Xavier Nady
Nady's numbers dropped precipitously after he was traded from Pittsburgh to the Yankees in 2008 (.330/.383.,535 to .268/.320/.474). Nady's dismal September (.223/.270/.339) is fresh in our minds, but his OPS+ of 105 for the Yanks was serviceable.
Swisher, on the other hand, is coming off just a horrendous year. He hit a dismal .219/.332/.410 for the ChiSox. If Swisher bounces back, he could probably meet or exceed Nady's OPS+ numbers for the coming year.
Offensively, I think it comes down to your faith in Swisher's ability to return to form. If each guy performs to the level they did last season, Nady's the clear choice. Even the lesser Nady we saw in NY was a better option than Swisher at the plate. Swisher's main advantage is his patience. He walks a ton, although I worry that he won't be able to keep that pace up if he doesn't raise his average this season. If he doesn't do damage, pitchers have no reason to nibble.
Defensively, the number say Nady was about average (0.6 UZR/150) as a right fielder last season, Swisher was well below (-9.3 UZR/150), but that was a small sample size for Swisher. In 2007 he played 52 games in right for the A's to the tune of a 27.8 UZR/150. In 2005, he played 121 games in right and rated well-above average at 12.8 UZR/150.
On the field, the players are pretty close. If the decision was based on stats alone, I might just take a shot on Swisher. I'd like to get as many plus gloves on the field as possible, and it wouldn't take a miraculous turnaround for Swisher to exceed, or at least meet Nady's offensive production.
A couple of other factors:
- The Yanks traded for both of these guys in the past 7 months. They gave up Jose Tabata among others for Nady and Damaso Marte. Wilson Betemit and Jeff Marquez were the focus of the deal for Swisher earlier this offseason. You'd think that if they moved either it would have to be for a package exceeding what they gave up to obtain them just a few short months/weeks ago.
- Nady is arb-elligible this year, then a free agent after the season. Swisher is signed through 2011 for $21.05M, with a team option for 2012 at $10.25M (with a $1M buyout). The financially sound move would be to rid yourself of Swisher's contract. If Swisher is the one to leave, though, the Yanks will have Cabrera and Gardner as their only outfielders signed through 2010.
This is a tough question. I don't think a one-year Nady rental, nor a long-term Swisher contract will be highly sought-after in the trade market. It wouldn't be hard to match the package the Yanks sent to Chicago for Swisher (Betemit and Marquez), but I'm not sure they could recoup the cost of the Nady trade. Tabata used to be a premier prospect, and he's only 19.
If it was up to me, I'd probably hold on to both of them unless someone blew me away with an offer. Having two of those outfielders on your bench may not be a bad thing, especially if someone goes down for a decent amount of time with an injury.