Yankees Trade For Nick Swisher
The Yankees picked up Nick Swisher and P Kanekoa Texeira for Wilson Betemit and minor league pitchers Jeff Marquez and Jhonny Nunez.
Even though Swisher had a down year, probably the worst of his professional career last year with the White Sox, the Yankees made out really good with this trade. Unless the White Sox are just trying to dump salary, this trade doesn’t make much sense for them. Swisher is clearly better than Betemit and his career-low average to his also career low BABIP (batting average on balls in play) of .251. Swisher also had a better line-drive rate (nearly 21%) than he usually does, which points to the fact that he hit some bad luck in 2008. Less ground balls found holes and more well-hit balls were hit at fielders. He should return to be a .270/.375/.480 hitter or so in 2009. Swisher also managed to draw 82 walks and hit 24 home runs
Betemit on the other hand drew six walks while striking out 56 times and has a .135 walk to strikeout ratio since joining the Yankees in the American League. He has occasional pop from the left side of the plate, but certainly isn’t better than Nick Swisher, although consistent playing time could benefit him, and he could get that in Chicago, but not New York.
Betemit is labeled a utility infielder, but is really only serviceable at first and third and even at those positions, he’s well below average defensively.
Swisher is owed $21.05MM over the next three years with a $10.25MM option for 2012 (or a $1MM buyout). He’s reasonably priced and would be a bargain if his performance returns to 2006-2007 level. Betemit will make around $2MM in arbitration this year for the White Sox.
The White Sox got back a pair of minor league arms in return, the big name being Jeff Marquez. He started out impressively in his minor league career but has dropped significantly in the Yankee farm system due to a lack of a strikeout pitch. If he can’t get ground balls, then he’ll never be a viable major league option and he’s dropped off in that category too.
Jhonny Nunez is the more promising arm, but is not much different than the other guy Chicago sent to New York, Kanekoa Texeira. The Yankees pulled Nunez from starting and plugged him into the bullpen and he became a really good arm out of there. He could potentially become a major league closer in a year or two.
Another positive for the Yankees is that Texeira doesn’t have to be added to the 40-man roster, while Marquez and Nunez do. So the Yankees gain some roster flexibility in case they want to sign a few free agents, say CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett or Derek Lowe. Or that other Teixeira guy.
The Yankees seem to have bought low on Swisher and if he rebounds the way the Yankees hope he does, this deal could turn out to be a steal.