Boston Red Sox: Nick Swisher

State of the Sox on Christmas Eve

December, 24, 2012
12/24/12
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For those of you who spent the weekend wrapping up holiday shopping or sipping egg nog with friends and family, you missed a few interesting developments on the Red Sox front.

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Are the Red Sox giving up too much for Joel Hanrahan?

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The team moved toward acquiring closer Joel Hanrahan in a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates, while new doubt was cast on the finalization of the Mike Napoli deal, which has been in limbo for 21 days now. If the team doesn’t end up reaching a resolution with the Napoli, one of the potential first-base fallback options was taken off the table Sunday when Nick Swisher signed a four-year, $56 million contract with the Cleveland Indians that also includes a $14 million option for a fifth season.

The waiting game on both Napoli and Hanrahan figures to drag on at least a few more days, a team source telling ESPNBoston.com he didn’t anticipate a trade before Christmas.

ESPN's Jim Bowden tweeted that the Sox would send minor league pitcher Stolmy Pimentel and first baseman/outfielder Jerry Sands to Pittsburgh for Hanrahan. Multiple industry sources indicated to ESPNBoston.com that the Sox also could include pitcher Mark Melancon. The deal could be finalized as soon as this week.

The news on the 31-year old Napoli wasn’t as encouraging. While the Red Sox remained mum on why the first baseman/catcher was still unsigned three weeks after news first broke of his three-year, $39 million agreement, multiple sources confirmed that concerns about Napoli's hip is the primary issue holding up the deal.

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Who would you like to see playing first base for the Red Sox in 2013?

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Napoli has been on the disabled list five times in his career, but never for a hip condition.

Simply adding contract language protecting the Sox in case the condition proves to be debilitating may not be enough to salvage the agreement, the sources said. Such contract language was inserted in prior deals the Sox did with outfielder J.D. Drew and pitcher John Lackey.

"I honestly don't think the outcome has been determined," said one source with direct knowledge of the negotiations when asked by ESPNBoston.com on Saturday whether the deal could fall through.

What will the Red Sox do if the sides can’t come to an agreement? The team doesn’t have any great internal options to play first base and the free-agent field is starting to run dry. With Swisher off the table, the next best option would seem to be 33-year-old Adam LaRoche, although he would cost the Sox a draft pick as compensation.

LaRoche, who declined Washington’s $13.3 million qualifying offer, hit 33 homers and drove in 100 runs in addition to winning the Gold Glove at first base this season for the Nationals. He is reportedly seeking a three-year offer. So far, Washington has only been willing to go to two years, according to reports.

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Would you like to have seen the Red Sox pony up for Nick Swisher (he got four years and $56M from Cleveland)?

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The Red Sox also could wait to see if Washington signs LaRoche, which could make the Nationals amenable to moving outfielder/first baseman Michael Morse in a deal. Morse, who turns 31 in March, hit 31 home runs and batted .303 in 2011, when he last played regularly, then hit 18 home runs in 406 at-bats while batting .291 last season.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox were on the verge of a big addition to the bullpen. Hanrahan saved a total of 76 games over the past two seasons for the Pirates and is a year away from free agency. With incumbent closer Andrew Bailey still a question mark after a season in which he was injured for most of the year, then pitched ineffectively, it makes sense that the Sox would explore bullpen upgrades.

Hanrahan, an All-Star in each of the past two seasons, earned $4.1 million in 2012 and can expect a significant bump in salary arbitration, to close to $7 million. He would join a formidable corps of relievers that could include Bailey, Koji Uehara, Alfredo Aceves, Junichi Tazawa, Franklin Morales, Andrew Miller and perhaps Daniel Bard, if the righthander can regain his old form.

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Do you wish the Sox had offered outfielder Cody Ross a third year?

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Elsewhere over the weekend, Cody Ross signed a three-year, $26 million deal with the Diamondbacks, officially ending his chances of coming back to Boston. There was mutual interest in a return to Fenway, but the Sox apparently weren’t willing to give him a third year. Arizona not only gave him three years, it also added a club option for a fourth season.

“We just couldn’t agree on terms,” Ross told reporters as to why he didn't re-sign with the the Red Sox. “At some point, just to be completely honest with you guys, they thought I was going to come back no matter what. ... I don’t know why [a return to Boston didn’t work out]. You have to ask [the Red Sox] why.”

The 32-year-old Ross hit .267 with 22 homers and 81 RBIs for the Red Sox in his first year in Boston. At Fenway he was outstanding, hitting .298 with 39 extra base hits and a .921 OPS.

Your turn: The Red Sox seem to be at a crossroads with Napoli and close to dealing for a late-innings pitcher who could very well be their closer for 2013. They also saw a couple of options -- Swisher and Ross -- come off the table. What’s your take on these situations? Vote in the polls above and share your thoughts in the comments section.

Source: Red Sox have interest in Swisher

December, 11, 2012
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The Boston Red Sox are one of four teams interested in signing free-agent outfielder/first baseman Nick Swisher, according to a baseball source. The Red Sox look at Swisher as a fallback plan if they are unable to lure Josh Hamilton.

Along with the Red Sox, the San Francisco Giants, New York Yankees and the Cleveland Indians have all reportedly expressed interested in the 32-year-old.

Privately, the Red Sox have said they won’t go beyond a three-year deal for Hamilton, and Monday a baseball source it was “doubtful” that Hamilton will get fewer than four years in a new deal. The Texas Rangers are still considered the favorites to re-sign Hamilton, the 2010 American League MVP.

The switch-hitting Swisher would appear to be a more plausible alternative for the Sox, although to date he reportedly is seeking a five- or six-year deal. ESPN Insider's Jim Bowden reported that the Indians hope they can sign him for four years and $48-50 million, though it appears the market could reach $60 million or more.

The Red Sox, of course, would only sign him for a shorter term, as is the case with their interest in Hamilton.

Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said at the conclusion of the winter meetings last week that the Red Sox were looking for a lefthanded bat, one that either could play the outfield or first base. Swisher, of course, plays both.

He hit .272 with 24 homers, 93 RBIs and an .837 OPS for the Yankees last season. The consistent and durable Swisher has had eight straight seasons with 20 or more homers and 131 or more games played.

In 50 career games at Fenway Park, Swisher has batted .286 with 8 homers and 32 RBIs.

Decision 2013: Corner outfield spots

October, 29, 2012
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On each weekday until baseball’s GM meetings Nov. 7, we will spotlight one key decision the Red Sox need to make this offseason that will help determine the success or failure of the 2013 team.

Today’s topic: Who will play LF and RF for the Red Sox in 2013?


The Red Sox need to shore up the left field position for next season and beyond. It’s a position GM Ben Cherington and new manager John Farrell will focus on this offseason. But who ends up in left field could have a lot to do with who plays right field.

Defining the decision: LF was a constant concern for the Red Sox in 2012.


With Carl Crawford limited to 31 games due to injuries and ultimately traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in August, Boston was forced to mix and match for the majority of the season.

[+] EnlargeCody Ross
Jared Wickerham/Getty ImagesCody Ross hit 22 homers in his first season with the Red Sox.
A total of nine players -- Crawford, Cody Ross, Pedro Ciriaco, Ryan Kalish, Darnell McDonald, Daniel Nava, Scott Podsednik, Nate Spears and Lars Anderson -- roamed the landscape in left field. Nava played the most with 76 games and hit .243 with six homers and 33 RBIs. A recurring wrist injury limited his ability to produce. Combined, Sox left fielders hit .267 with 14 homers and 72 RBIs on the season.

The Red Sox won’t solely focus on left field. In fact, the club has a few options available in hopes of stabilizing all three outfield positions. The key could be to find interchangeable parts with players that can play more than one outfield position.

Now that the free-agency period has opened with the conclusion of the World Series, the Red Sox will increase their talks with Ross. If the sides are able to come to an agreement and Ross re-signs with Boston, Cherington’s challenge to stabilize left field becomes more interesting.

If Kalish can remain healthy and produce the way he did during his rookie season in 2010, his ability to play both corner outfield positions will help. If the Red Sox want Kalish to play right, Ross could easily play left field. The problem is, Kalish can't stay healthy. After missing the majority of 2011 with neck and shoulder injuries, he spent the first half of 2012 recovering from surgeries on both. He was shut down in the final weeks of this season in order to help jumpstart his offseason rest period because it was such a long and arduous year of rehab for him.

Boston’s new bench coach, Torey Lovullo, managed Kalish at Triple-A Pawtucket in 2010 and witnessed first-hand what the outfielder can achieve when healthy.

“When Ryan Kalish is healthy, he’s as capable as any young player that the Red Sox have,” Lovullo said. “We got a little snapshot of that in 2010 when he had a great run. Unfortunately, these injuries have kind of sidetracked him.”

When center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury was limited to 18 games in 2010 due to three separate rib injuries, Kalish emerged as a potential long-term option in the outfield. He hit .252 with four homers and 24 RBIs in 53 games as a 22-year-old that season.

Option A: Stay with current personnel


If Ross re-signs, the Red Sox don’t trade Ellsbury and Kalish is healthy, that threesome could be the starting outfield for Boston from left to right. Nava, a switch-hitter, proved he could be reliable. Ryan Sweeney, who played only 63 games due to injury in his first season in Boston, is arbitration eligible and also could be in the mix.

Option B: Go outside

[+] EnlargeNick Swisher
Anthony Gruppuso/US PresswireNick Swisher hit 24 homers in 2012 for the Yankees.
Yankees right fielder Nick Swisher is a free agent and his ability to play right field and first base could be a major asset to the Red Sox. Despite his tenure with the Yankees, Red Sox fans would certainly be drawn to a player like Swisher for his personality. He’ll be looking for another big payday, but it’s possible the 31-year-old will have to settle for a mid-level deal instead.

Another interesting addition could be veteran All-Star Torii Hunter. He’s close friends with David Ortiz and would fit well in the Red Sox clubhouse. A center fielder by trade, Hunter could play right and allow Ross or Kalish to play left.

Adding either Swisher or Hunter could allow the Sox to move Ross to left field.

Among the other intriguing free-agent options are Michael Bourne, B.J. Upton, Melky Cabrera, Ryan Ludwick and Shane Victorino.

Long shot: Josh Hamilton


The Red Sox went out of their way to shed more than $200 million in salaries after trading Crawford, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, pitcher Josh Beckett and infielder Nick Punto to the Dodgers last August. Even though Hamilton is the most intriguing free agent this offseason, Cherington and the Red Sox would be taking a risk given the club’s recent history with high-priced free agents.
Only Delmon Young swung at a higher percentage of pitches this past season. No one missed on a higher percentage of his swings or chased a higher percentage of pitches outside the zone.

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Besides Cody Ross, which player would you most like to see in the Red Sox outfield next season

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Hamilton is a hugely productive hitter right now, but it's pretty easy to envision a time when age catches up to him. Few power hitters have survived into old age without plate discipline. Notable exceptions include Andre Dawson and Joe Carter.

For a 31-year-old about to enjoy a huge payday, that's a troubling thought.

Hamilton would infuse the Red Sox with star power, but a risky signing seems counterproductive for a team seeking fiscal responsibility.

Your turn: What's the best option for the Red Sox?


We’ve outlined the possibilities, now tell us what you would do if you were in Ben’s shoes. Vote in the poll above and leave your more detailed thoughts in the comments section.

Information from ESPN Stats & Information's Jeremy Lundblad was used in this report.

Swisher beats Youkilis in All-Star vote

July, 8, 2010
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Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher defeated Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis in the voting for the final spot on the American League All-Star roster.

The voting had been very close all week but when the polls closed Thursday, Swisher wound up on top to earn his first All-Star appearance.

Swisher is batting .289 with 14 home runs, 48 RBIs and 52 runs scored. Youkilis is hitting .292 with 17 homers, 55 RBIs and 66 runs scored.

The other players on the ballot were Rangers third baseman Michael Young, White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko and Twins outfielder Delmon Young.

Reds first baseman Joey Votto was the winner of the National League voting.

Down to the wire between Swisher, Youk

July, 8, 2010
7/08/10
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With just a few hours remaining in the online fan voting, Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher held “the slimmest of leads” over Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis in the race for the final spot on the American League All-Star roster, according to MLB.com.

Fans have until 4 p.m. to cast their votes (CLICK HERE TO VOTE) for one of five players: Swisher, Youkilis, Rangers third baseman Michael Young, White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko and Twins outfielder Delmon Young.

Swisher back ahead of Youk in fan voting

July, 7, 2010
7/07/10
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Yankees right fielder regained a slim lead over Kevin Youkilis in the latest online fan voting for the final spot on the American League All-Star team. According to MLB.com, Swisher’s lead is less than a percentage point.

Fans have until 4 p.m. on Thursday to cast their votes (CLICK HERE TO VOTE) for one of five players: Swisher, Youkilis, Rangers third baseman Michael Young, White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko and Twins outfielder Delmon Young.

The vote lead has shifted back and forth between Swisher and Youkilis for the last three days, according to MLB.com.

Youk passes Swisher in voting for final spot

July, 6, 2010
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Boston Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis has moved ahead of New York Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher at the halfway mark of online fan voting for the final spot on the American League All-Star team. Swisher had led Youkilis in numbers released Monday.

Fans have until 4 p.m. on Thursday to cast their votes (CLICK HERE TO VOTE) for one of five players: Swisher, Youkilis, Rangers third baseman Michael Young, White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko and Twins outfielder Delmon Young. According to MLB.com, Swisher currently sits second behind Youkilis, with the other three “well-positioned to make a run at the top spot.”

Youkilis was removed from Tuesday's game with what the Red Sox called right ankle pain. The extent of the injury is still unclear.

Red Sox players are 3 for 3 in fan voting for the final spot on the All-Star ballot since its inception in 2002, with Johnny Damon (2002), Jason Varitek (2003) and Hideki Okajima (2007) getting voted onto the team. Yankees players are 1 for 5.

Early returns: Swisher leads Youkilis

July, 5, 2010
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After one day of online fan voting for the final spot on the American League roster, Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher holds a slim lead over Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis, according to MLB.com.

Fans have until 4 p.m. on Thursday to cast their votes (CLICK HERE TO VOTE) for one of five players: Swisher, Youkilis, Rangers third baseman Michael Young, White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko and Twins outfielder Delmon Young.

Red Sox players are 3 for 3 in fan voting for the final spot on the All-Star ballot since its inception in 2002, with Johnny Damon (2002), Jason Varitek (2003) and Hideki Okajima (2007) getting voted onto the team. Yankees players are 1 for 5.

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