Now that the division-rival Angels have agreed to sign free-agent outfielder Josh Hamilton to a five-year, $125 million contract, the Rangers find themselves needing to replace the middle-of-the-order thumper. As ESPN's Buster Olney reported on Thursday, rival evaluators are speculating that free-agent right fielder/first baseman Nick Swisher could fit Texas' bill.
While Swisher would not provide the same pop as Hamilton did (Hamilton's 2012 ISO was .292, Swisher's .201), he is a steady bet for 20-plus homers and 30-plus doubles. Swisher also provides the benefit of being a switch-hitter who produces from both sides of the dish, though he does hit for more power from the left-hand side. Despite calling hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium home for four seasons, Swisher doesn't have an extreme major home/road split and could easily up his career .235/.335/.466 line in 44 games as a visitor to Rangers Ballpark.
Hamilton was never known for spectacular glove work, but Swisher does have solid defense in right field, and he can play first base in a pinch. This versatility would give the Rangers the same type of defensive flexibility they currently enjoy with Mitch Moreland.
The 32-year-old Swisher could also offer Texas something the 31-year-old Hamilton could not: durability. Swisher has only landed on the disabled list once in his nine-year career—in 2005, due to a shoulder separation. Hamilton, meanwhile, has sustained injuries to his knees, back, groin, foot, arm, and ribs in the last few years.