Nick Swisher likely to be free agent

Updated: February 27, 2012, 12:20 PM ET
By Wallace Matthews | ESPNNewYork.com

TAMPA, Fla. -- The New York Yankees free spirit right fielder expects to be a free-agent right fielder at the end of this season.

Nick Swisher, in the final year of a three-year contract with the Yankees, said Sunday he will not seek to negotiate a new contract during the 2012 season and expects to test the free agent market next winter.

"The Yankees aren't traditionally an organization that does do multiyears in the middle of a contract," Swisher said before the morning workout at George M. Steinbrenner Field. "They are a team that you're going to have to test the free-agent market. You're going to have to because that's how the Yankees work."

The Yankees generally do not negotiate during the season but they have, however, discussed contract extensions with several players, including Alex Rodriguez in 2007 and just this week, catcher Russell Martin.

As reported by ESPNNewYork.com's Andrew Marchand, the Yankees approached Martin about a three-year deal this winter, but after some conversation between Yankees general manager Brian Cashman and Martin's agent, Matt Colleran, decided to shelve the talks until after the season. Martin will play this season on a one-year deal worth $7.5 million.

Swisher said he would not instruct his agent, Dan Lozano, to contact the Yankees about a possible contract extension during the season.

"That's not my style, man. I don't force the issue," he said. "I just go and play the game and I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. That's kind of one of those things that I'm really going to keep in that back corner and not really worry about that until I have to."

The Yankees picked up Swisher's $10.5 million option this winter after a 2011 season in which he started slowly but finished well, batting .260 with 23 home runs and 85 RBIs. His on-base percentage (.374) was the highest of any Yankee regular.

But Swisher struggled in the postseason, as he has throughout his career, batting .211 in the ALDS against the Detroit Tigers. In nine postseason series, Swisher's batting average is .169 and his OBP .295.

Swisher did not address his individual struggles of last October, preferring to discuss the Yankees five-game loss to the Tigers, losing the final game at home, 3-2, despite loading the bases in two innings but failing to score, in terms of a team failure.

"We just kinda came up empty in Game 5," he said. "It's kinda crazy the way one inning can take over a whole season, you know, but hey, sometimes that happens, you know? You don't want it to, but when it does it's not exactly fun to go through. You gotta step up in big spots and I think we're all ready to do that this year, man."

Swisher came to camp five pounds lighter than he had last year, at 199 pounds, and noticeably more muscular in the arms and chest due to a change in his offseason workout program.

He acknowledged the new training regime was in part linked to his pending free agency.

"I've never been in a spot like this. I never even went through an arbitration," he said. "I love this place. Everybody knows that. This is the place I want to be. I'm just going to continue to be myself, then after we win this World Series, let's talk about it."

Wallace Matthews covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com.

Wallace Matthews has covered New York sports since 1983 as a reporter, columnist, radio host and TV commentator. He covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com after working for Newsday, the New York Post, the New York Sun and ESPN New York 98.7 FM.
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