The Atlanta Braves are reportedly looking to deal at least one of Nick Swisher or Michael Bourn before Opening Day. The team is willing to “eat a good portion of the salary” that is owed to either player during the upcoming season, in order to complete a trade. Atlanta is in a rebuilding process and it would be helpful to get at least one of the two veteran contracts off their books.
Swisher is owed $15 million in 2016 and has a $14 million vesting option for 2017 that is guaranteed if he makes 550 plate appearances next season and passes a physical at seasons end. Bourn is owed $14 million in 2016, as well as a $12 million vesting option in 2017 if he too, records 550 plate appearances next season. With neither player likely to achieve 550 plate appearances next season, this is what makes them expendable. Both players have had their share of injuries through the years and will not be bringing in much talent — the goal is to dump some of that salary in order to gain financial flexibility. However, $10 million of the $29 million owed to Swisher and Bourn next season will be paid by the Cleveland Indians, because of a deal that sent third baseman Chris Johnson to Cleveland last August.
Swisher, 35, and Bourn, 33, are not getting any younger, and the Braves will be going a different route with their 2016 lineup that likely puts both on the bench. Freddie Freeman is locked in as the everyday first baseman, and the starting outfield is likely to be Hector Olivera, Ender Inciarte, and Nick Markakis. Bourn is more expendable than Swisher because the Braves also have Emilio Bonifacio, who can play anywhere in the outfield. Swisher can play first base and the corner slots in the outfield, and also can provide a switch-hit power threat off the bench.