This afternoon, the Atlanta Braves released a statement announcing two roster moves, one of which was the release of 35-year-old veteran first baseman/outfielder Nick Swisher. Swisher was acquired in a mid-season trade last year along with Michael Bourn, who was also sent from Cleveland to Atlanta in exchange for Chris Johnson. With the Braves, Swisher hit .195/.349/.339 in 149 plate appearances across 46 games. Overall, Swisher amassed a .196/.312/.320 line in 2015, with six home runs and nine doubles to his credit.
While the Braves will have to swallow the $10 million they owe Swisher this season ($5 million of his $15 million salary will be paid by the Indians per the trade agreement), his release was necessitated by the depth of outfielders on the Braves’ roster for 2016, which includes Bourn, as well as free-agent acquisitions Emilio Bonifacio and Kelly Johnson, both of whom can swing between the infield and outfield. With the solid starting trio of Hector Olivera, Ender Inciarte, and Nick Markakis, outfield playing time will be limited and Swisher was clearly the weakest player of the group.
Looking forward, it will certainly be tough for Swisher to get on a major-league club this year, considering Opening Day is just six days away. Swisher’s best chance at getting back into the big leagues this year is by signing a minor-league contract and waiting to fill in a roster spot opened by injury, trade, or some other means. A lifetime .249/.351/.447 hitter with 245 career homers, Swisher has been a formidable hitter in the past. In 661 plate appearances since the beginning of 2014, however, Swisher has hit just .204/.291/.326 with 14 home runs, compiling a -2.3 fWAR. Given his age and declining performance, it is tough to imagine Swisher making it back to the majors again, and this cut very may spell the end of his 12-year major league career.