Nick Swisher, a fan favorite in the Bronx despite his repeated October failures, reportedly has agreed to terms on a four-year, $56-million deal to join the Indians. The deal includes a $14-million vesting option for 2017, according to the Daily News, which first reported the signing.
Swisher's departure was expected as the Yankees pare down their payroll below the $189-million cutoff by 2014 to qualify for millions in savings through baseball's revenue-sharing plan. Nevertheless, it was yet another jarring sign of a business model that represents a radical departure for the Yankees.
They offered Swisher a one-year qualifying offer worth $13.3 million, but the switch-hitting outfielder quickly declined it. That essentially ensured his departure, given that the Yankees had no intention of offering a multiyear deal. The Yankees will receive a supplemental draft pick as compensation.
"Thank you NY for the kindness & support you've shown me the past 4 years. It's been an amazing experience & I've loved every minute of it!" the 32-year-old Swisher tweeted Sunday morning.
Coming off a poor season with the 2008 White Sox, Swisher was obtained for utilityman Wilson Betemit and two low-level prospects. That trade proved to be one of general manager Brian Cashman's best moves in recent years.
Swisher's tenure in the Bronx will be defined partly by his constant October struggles -- in 36 postseason games, he hit .162 (21-for-130) with four home runs -- but his regular-season production proved critical. He provided a blend of pop and plate discipline, averaging 26 homers, 87 RBIs and 82 walks per season and hitting .268 with a strong .367 on-base percentage.
Swisher began his Yankees career as a fourth outfielder, but when Xavier Nady suffered an early-season injury in 2009, Swisher took his place in rightfield, where he remained a fixture. He helped the Yankees to a world championship in 2009 before earning All-Star honors in 2010.
The signing provides a homecoming of sorts for Swisher, who played college baseball for Ohio State, where the baseball field bears his name.
Tweeted Swisher: "Wow! What a crazy few weeks. Hey Cleveland! Are you ready? Because I'm coming home!"