Nick Swisher’s homecoming with the Cleveland Indians has been cut short, as the oft-injured outfielder was traded Friday to the Atlanta Braves as part of a package that also includes Michael Bourn.   

Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported the full deal is Swisher, Bourn and cash going to Atlanta in exchange for infielder Chris Johnson. The Braves confirmed the details on Twitter. 

Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports provided details of the money Cleveland is sending to Atlanta:

Despite a successful 2013 season in which he helped lead Cleveland to its first postseason berth in six years, Swisher’s performance has been declining in recent years. He had an .837 OPS in 2012 with 36 doubles and 24 home runs as a member of the New York Yankees, but his OPS dropped to .763 and .608 in 2013 and 2014, respectively, with the Indians. 

Last year was the worst of Swisher’s career, as he played in just 97 games due to injuries and was ineffective with eight home runs in 360 at-bats before being shut down in August after operations on both knees.

Those knee issues have limited Swisher again this campaign. He started 2015 on the disabled list and returned for 30 games to hit .198/.261/.297 before going back on the disabled list. The 34-year-old is currently on a rehab assignment, playing eight games at Triple-A Columbus. 

Rumblings of a deal involving these two teams for Swisher have been prevalent since before the trade deadline. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported on July 12 the Indians had discussed a deal with Atlanta involving Swisher for Johnson. 

Rosenthal noted that Swisher’s salary was a hindrance at the time:

Bourn is another player whose stock has cratered in Cleveland. The 32-year-old is hitting just .246/.313/.294 this season. 

Having two players like Swisher and Bourn, who are making a lot of money and not providing any value, is especially crippling for a small-market franchise like Cleveland. They combined to make $28.5 million in 2015, while the team’s entire payroll is just shy of $88 million, and they are due to make $29 million in 2016, per Cot’s Baseball Contracts

Johnson isn’t necessarily an upgrade for Cleveland at third base. The 30-year-old is hitting .235/.272/.320, but he’s cheaper than Swisher and Bourn, as noted by Jordan Bastian of

That’s critical for the Indians, who need flexibility to upgrade their roster in the offseason. 

The Braves are rebuilding, but their plan is likely to involve having financial flexibility heading into 2017 when they open a new stadium. Bourn and Swisher will fit right in because their contracts come off of the books after next season.

Bourn does have a history in Atlanta, as he spent one-and-a-half seasons with the Braves from 2011-12. He had the best slash line of his career in 208 games with them (.275/.341/.381), making the All-Star team in 2012 and finishing 18th in the National League MVP voting. 

Any hope for Swisher to revive his career will revolve around his ability to post solid on-base percentage totals and hit 20-plus homers. He hasn’t done that since 2013, but a change of scenery could be the next logical step to give him one final successful go-around in the big leagues.

This is a deal in which both teams are dumping salaries to gain more flexibility. The Indians are doing it for the short term, gaining extra space heading into this offseason; the Braves are looking ahead to 2017. 


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