There is uncertainty right now about if Huroki Kuroda, Nick Swisher and Rafael Soriano will be back with the Yankees next season. This is because they have all declined their qualifying offers. However, it seems one can bank on Swisher not returning to the Bronx.
They were all productive during the regular season, but Swisher has been basically invisible in the postseason with the Yankees. He hit a decent .250 in the three-game sweep to the Tigers and slugged .333 in the ALDS against the Twins in 2010. However, his six other playoff series while with the Bronx Bombers include pathetic offensive production never exceeding .211 (.111, .091, .133, .150, .083).
The Yankees will be trying to advance to the World Series next season and they do not need players that can’t be relied upon in the postseason. Swisher is a fan favorite and a favorite of mine because of how he deals with fans and the media. He seems to always give all out effort on the bases and in the outfield, but Swisher does invariably make questionable decisions and his arm is not the best.
He is not worth the $13.3 million qualifying offer, so even if he had accepted, he would have been overpaid. The Yankees are in cost cutting mode, trying to reduce payroll to get below $189 million by 2014, so not bringing him back makes sense. The front office was thinking about not bringing him back before the season anyway.
Swisher is replaceable because the Yankees could move Ichiro to his natural position of rightfield and the rest of the outfield could include a healthy Brett Gardner and Curtis Granderson. The Yankees would be losing some power without Swisher but would be gaining more speed as well as a more reliable outfielder in Gardner.
Swisher did average 26 homers and 87 RBI with the Yankees in the regular season, but I don’t see this production lasting too much longer. Various teams will reportedly offer Swisher a three or four-year contract, and the Yankees are smartly only willing to offer a one-year deal.
However, it is more important that Kuroda and Soriano reconsider because the team will need the pitching that they will be able to provide. They are both coming off productive seasons while proving that they can excel in the pressure cooker that is New York City.
It does seem like Mariano Rivera will be back next season (a few weeks ago he said he was not sure), but Rivera will be 43 on November 29, so no one knows what he will have left after having ACL surgery. This makes having a reliable closer like Soriano a necessity. Soriano is somebody who is worth offering a few more million dollars to.
As reported by MLB, Rivera threw 25 pitches on Friday without any problems during a commercial shoot at the Hackley School in Westchester. This proves that he should be all in, which is great news for Yankee fans, but again, there is no way of knowing if he will be able to pitch up to his Hall of Fame standards for the whole season.