Yesterday Ken Rosenthal tweeted that the Indians were exploring the possibility of trading Nick Swisher, probably for another player with an "inflated contract." Swisher's contract calls for him to receive $15 million in 2015, and another $15M in 2016. or those of you with shaky math skills, that's another $30 million. Swisher isn't the Tribe's only player with a contract that might be described as inflated, there's also Michael Bourn, who's owed another $27.5 million over the next two seasons.
If the Indians are going to move either Swisher or Bourn, this report would make it seem they prefer to move Swisher. (I'm not saying that's definitely the case, and ultimately it doesn't really matter, for the purposes of this post) If that's the case, I'm in agreement with them. Not only is Bourn owed a little less money, but he actually provided a little value in 2014. (Not a lot, but a little, which is more than Swisher provided.) Plus, losing Bourn means the center field spot needs to be filled, which gives you a limited number of options, while losing Swisher just means the DH spot needs to be filled, giving you many more options.
How about you, if you can snap your fingers and be rid of either Swisher or Bourn, which would you choose? (Also, is there anyone who would keep them both? We definitely want to hear from you.)
Trading one bad contract for another, in hopes that a change of scenery might spark a turnaround, or because the bad contracts each fill a bigger positional need on the other team, is one option. Rosenthal mentions Ryan Howard, B.J. Upton, and Ubaldo Jimenez as possibile matches for Swisher. The Cubs have also reportedly inquired, possibly about a possible swap for Edwin Jackson.
Howard is still owed $60 million (for two years), Upton is owed $46.35M (three years), Jimenez $38.75M (three years), and Jackson $22M (two years). Of those four, Jackson is the one I'd want, because I don't really want any of them, but Jackson is owed less money than Swisher, so there's that.
Another way to be rid of a bad contract s to offer a team something of value if they're willing to take the contract of your hands, and another way is to offer to pay some of what the player is still owed, just so long as the new team pays the rest.
If the Yankees called and said they were willing to take Swisher (and his full contract), but also wanted 29-year-old minor leaguer Toru Murata, I imagine you'd jump at the opportunity, whereas if they said they were willing to take Swisher (and his full contract), but also wanted Yan Gomes, you'd hang up on them, possibly after calling them a few choice names.
What I'm wondering is, what's the most you'd be willing to give up in order to be rid of whichever of the two players/contracts you most want to be rid of? Who's the best prospect you'd part with? Would you be willing to send someone otherwise expected to be in the starting rotation, like Trevor Bauer or T.J. House?
And what if instead of talent, it were money. How much of what's still owed to Swisher/Bourn would you be willing to have the Indians pay in order to have some other team pick up the rest?