Reporting Matt Loede
CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – For new Indians OF Nick Swisher, coming to play for the Cleveland Indians is like a homecoming.
“We wanted to go somewhere where we would be wanted, and where we would be loved,” Swisher said. “To be coming back and playing for my supposed home team, I couldn’t be more excited.”
The Indians free agent was introduced to the media on Thursday, officially inking his deal that is worth a reported four years for $56 million, with a fifth year vesting option on the deal that could push it all the way to $70 million.
It’s the richest free agent deal in Indians history.
“Money is a wonderful thing to have, but just because of the payday doesn’t make me who I am,” Swisher said.
Indians manager Terry Francoa had a lot to do with Swisher coming aboard, and said that he found out about the deal late Saturday night.
“I was a little more emotional or stunned than I thought I would be,” Francona said. “It hit me like ‘Ok is this for real?’ because we wanted this guy really bad.”
Swisher comes to the Indians after playing the last four in the Big Apple with the New York Yankees. Last season he hit .272 with 24 homers and 93 RBI.
While not official by any means, Swisher is expected to be the Indians four hitter in Francona’s new-look lineup, taking over right field for the traded Shin-Soo Choo.
“You can believe he’s going to be right smack in the middle of that lineup,” Francona said.
It’s a lineup that will include a makeover from last season, with Drew Stubbs somewhere in the OF, Mark Reynolds at 1B, and Lonnie Chisehall penciled in at third to start the year.
“You can talk about the great young group of core guys that they have, look at a guy like Francona, that’s a major key, and the guys he’s brought over, there’s just so many great things that were leading me to this team,” Swisher said.
Overall Swisher owns a career Major League batting average of .256 (1085-4241) with 251 doubles, 9 triples, 209 home runs and 673 RBI in 1209 games over nine seasons with the Oakland A’s, Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees since 2004.
“I’m so juiced to get going, so excited,” Swisher said. “I just cant wait for spring training to get things going.”
On top of coming aboard with a major deal, Swisher is going to contribute $400,000 to Cleveland Indians charities, something near and dear to his and his wife JoAnna’s heart.
“There’s so many things we will be able to do off the field as well,” Swisher said. “I’ve been so blessed to be in a situation like this, with me and my wife we’re so excited to be here.”