Why The Yankees Thought It Was Best To Bring Back Nick Swisher

This article was originally published on Outside Pitch MLB

While the New York Yankees were taking on the Detroit Tigers in a cold Saturday afternoon matchup, news broke across the YES Network broadcast that former Yankee Nick Swisher was on the verge of signing a minor league pact with the team. Although there is no confirmation that he’s officially inked a deal, all signs point to the charismatic outfielder rejoining the team he suited up for from 2009-2012.

Many will question the deal, as Swisher has looked like a shell of his former self ever since he left the Bronx. After signing a four-year, $56 million deal with the Cleveland Indians, he combined to slash .228/.311/.377 with 32 home runs, 132 runs batted in and 230 total hits in 272 combined games. Due to his struggles, Swisher was shipped to the Atlanta Braves; unfortunately, however, his struggles worsened. Finishing out the 2015 season in Georgia, the 35-year old hit just .195 with an OPS of .688, signaling that his best years were far in the rearview mirror.  Because of this, Swisher was cut during Spring Training and has had trouble finding work ever since.

While a television role seemed like a destiny, the Yankees instead decided to see if Swisher cans till contribute. Let’s take a look at the possible reasons that Swisher was brought back into the fold.

Purely for depth purposes

When Greg Bird went down for the season due to shoulder surgery, an above average insurance policy turned into a glaring hole within the organization. Not only was the top prospect supposed to be one of the best players for the Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, but he was also the next man up in case first baseman Mark Teixeira went down with an injury.

With many options on the free agent market, General Manager Brian Cashman settled on former Baltimore Orioles first baseman Chris Parmalee to be the insurance policy. Parmalee, who hit .216 in 2015, isn’t the best of back-up plans. And while Swisher may not be much better, he could be rejuvenated by joining a franchise that gave him a new leash on his baseball life.

They’re not completely comfortable with Dustin Ackley

There is no doubt that Ackley has looked like a completely different player ever since joining the Yankees during last year’s trade deadline. After struggling to live up to the hype with the Seattle Mariners, he slashed a strong .288/.333/.654 over the final month and a half of 2015. However, Ackley looks more comfortable as a corner outfielder and second baseman, despite playing 24 games at first base throughout his career.

Despite spending a majority of his Yankees tenure in right field, Swisher was originally going to start at first base before the team signed Teixeira. As he transitioned to the Indians and Braves, Swisher saw more playing time at the position as well. He won’t blow you away with his defensive skills, but he could be an upgrade over someone who doesn’t look as comfortable as manager Joe Girardi may like.

Second times a charm

Think back to the 2008 season: Swisher, then playing with the Chicago White Sox, had the worst season of his young career, as he hit just .219 in 153 games. However, just two year later in pinstripes and Swisher hit .288, was named to an All Star team and was a World Series Champion.

While some players fall under the pressure of New York, Swisher basked in the spotlight, playing arguably the best baseball in his career while wearing the navy blue and white digs. Although he left on a rather sour note, he has always been someone that has been well-liked by fans – and if he makes he way back to Yankee Stadium, expect a nice ovation from the crowd.

Is there a chance Swisher doesn’t even make it to the big leagues? Yes. He hasn’t been a productive player in nearly three years, and there may be nothing left to give. On top of that, the Yankees roster is completely full, as they have multiple players at every position he plays in (outfield, first base, designated hitter).

But at the same time, this is the definition of a low-risk, high reward signing. If a player goes down, Swisher can be a solid bat off the bench who can provide energy and liveliness in the clubhouse.

Dan Federico is the Managing Editor and Staff Writer for Outside Pitch MLB. You can follow and interact with him on Twitter or contact him via email here

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