Swisher Trade Rumors Could Result in a Ubaldo-Cleveland Reunion

The #IndiansTwitter-sphere exploded a bit on Tuesday with the tweet-announcement from Ken Rosenthal that stated that the Indians could be looking to trade Nick Swisher.

Rosenthal’s tweet said that sources implied the Indians are “exploring wide range of options, including a trade of Swisher for another player with an inflated contract.” He went on to state that since Swisher is owed $30 million in 2015 through 2016, players such as the Phillies’ Ryan Howard, the Braves’ B.J. Upton, and the Orioles’ Ubaldo Jimenez would be examples of trades and contracts the Indians could be considering as a trade for Swisher. Rosenthal clarified that not every player mentioned is necessarily being considered, but acted as examples of the sort of inflated contract the Indians would be looking at.

The Indians’ defense and hitting struggled last season, and Swisher was certainly a reason why it did so. As we’ve covered before, Swisher is a player who is underperforming given his 4-year, $56 million contract. He spent the end of last season on the DL with double knee surgery, an injury which could have explained his lackluster performance on the field during the 2014 season.

A trade including Swisher for a player with a similarly inflated contract would not be the worst thing for the Indians to do this season. With Swisher likely currently being slotted as the team’s DH for 2015, taking him off the field already solves a major problem with his defense. However, there are a number of worthwhile younger hitters within the Indians organization that could take his spot in the lineup (Zach Walters, should he be able to replicate his power hits from last season, or even Jesus Aguilar could be options). Of the players Rosenthal mentioned as possibilities, Upton would probably be the least-well received trade of the group. Upton is an outfielder, which the Indians do already have in abundance. Furthermore, Upton’s numbers have declined in the past two seasons, as he hit only .184 in 2013 and .208 in 2014. The Indians need a bat, and shouldn’t sacrifice an outfield spot on someone who isn’t producing when they don’t need that extra outfielder.

Howard, a first baseman, could at least hit more than Upton — he had a .223 average in 2014 and a .266 average in 80 games in 2013, though he led the league in strikeouts this past season with 190. He had his strongest seasons in the mid-2000s, when he was chosen as the Rookie of the Year in 2005 and was the National League MVP in 2006.

Upton is currently signed by the Braves through 2017 on a 5-year, $75.2 million deal, while Howard has a 5-year, $125 million deal that takes him through 2016.

While Upton and Howard wouldn’t be the ideal players to get in exchange for Swisher, the proposed idea of sending Swisher to the Orioles in exchange for Jimenez is one that has Tribe fans most noticeably on the edge of their seats.

Jimenez came to the Tribe in the middle of 2011 after a difficult season with the Colorado Rockies. Jimenez started his career with the Rockies, and was an All-Star in 2010 when he posted a 19-8 record and 2.88 ERA. However, he went 6-9 in Colorado in 2011 before he was traded, when he finished the season at 4-4 in Cleveland with a 5.10 ERA. He lost 17 games in 2012 and had a 5.40 ERA in 31 games, causing fans to grumble at his abilities. However, Mickey Callaway worked his pitching magic, and Jimenez turned things around with a 13-9 season in Cleveland in 2013 coupled with a 3.30 ERA. He is currently signed by the Orioles through 2017 on a 4-year, $50 million contract.

Although he went 6-9 with a 4.81 ERA in 25 games with the Orioles last season, it seems that a Jimenez reunion with the Indians would be met with positivity. Callaway helped turn Jimenez around once before, which means it would not be impossible for him to do it again. More than likely Jimenez left for Baltimore because of the money aspect, which means the trade of inflated contracts would allow Jimenez the opportunity to come back to the team he succeeded with at a price which makes the monetary side of things affordable, as well. Plus, giving the Indians an extra starting pitcher would not hurt and gives them the opportunity to build on the infield and roster opportunities they have with younger members of the organization.

Only time will tell if the Indians will really follow through on the idea of a Swisher trade and which players they will truly be considering in doing so. The idea is certainly a fair one to toss around, though, and will surely leave Tribe fans buzzing for weeks to come.

Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images

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