Free agent Nick Swisher has agreed to a four-year, $56 million contract with the Cleveland Indians, as first reported by Mark Feinsand of the Daily News. Feinsand adds that the contract includes a vesting option for a fifth season that could bring the deal’s value to $70 million. The 32-year-old Swisher spent the last four seasons with the New York Yankees and batted .272 this year with 24 homers and 93 RBIs.
The Mariners have agreed to terms with outfielder/DH Raul Ibanez on a one-year contract worth $2.75 million plus incentives. Ibanez is coming off a 2012 season for the Yankees in which he batted .240/.308/.453 for the Yankees with 19 home runs in 425 plate appearances. The 40-year-old Ibanez previously played for the Mariners from 1996-2000 and 2004-2008.
Losing out on both Swisher and Ibanez could force the Yankees to boost their efforts to sign Scott Hairston.
Closer Joel Hanrahan is on his way to the Boston Red Sox after the Pirates agreed to trade the two-time All-Star in return for outfielder/first baseman Jerry Sands, right-handed pitching prospect Stolmy Pimentel, and two more prospects yet to be named. One of those players may or may not be reliever Mark Melancon.
Hanrahan is set to be a free agent after the 2013 season and was 5-2 with a 2.72 ERA and 36 saves for the Pirates in 2012. He had 40 saves in 2011 for Pittsburgh. The 31 year old was named to the National League All-Star team in 2011 and 2012. He was due a hefty raise this offseason, his final year of arbitration, expected to be about $7 million. Hanrahan was 10-8 with a 2.59 ERA in parts of four seasons with the Pirates. Jason Grilli will take over as closer for the Pirates following the trade.
Sands, 25, batted .244/.325/.376 with the Dodgers before being traded to the Red Sox as part of last August’s blockbuster. At Triple-A last season, Sands batted .296/.375/.524 in 119 games. He has tremendous raw power and can play either corner outfield spot. The 22-year-old Pimentel has a 4.37 ERA and a 1.326 WHIP across parts of six minor-league seasons. In 589 innings, he’s struck out 477, walked 191 and given up 57 homers.
Finally, on a sad note, former Major League infielder Ryan Freel has died at the age of 36. The cause of death was reportedly a self-inflicted shotgun blast, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. Authorities are treating Freel’s death as a suicide. An eight-year Major League veteran from 2001-09, Freel spent the bulk of his career with the Reds from 2003-08 and rose to become an everyday player and fan favorite for his gritty play and hustle. He made his Major League debut with the Blue Jays in 2001. His career batting average was .268. He also stole 143 bases. Very sad news. Prayers for him and his family.