LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- After spending the past few months unsuccessfully attempting to find another team willing to eat at least a small portion of Nick Swisher's $15 million salary, the Braves opted to give the veteran outfielder his unconditional release on Monday.Along with bidding adieu to Swisher, the
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- After spending the past few months unsuccessfully attempting to find another team willing to eat at least a small portion of Nick Swisher's $15 million salary, the Braves opted to give the veteran outfielder his unconditional release on Monday.
Along with bidding adieu to Swisher, the Braves also reassigned left-handed reliever Alex Torres to Minor League camp.
The Torres move proves that Atlanta is still looking for another left-handed reliever. But Swisher's departure does not directly affect any remaining roster decisions, because it has been known since January that the former All-Star would be either traded or released before the start of this season.
When the Braves acquired Swisher, Michael Bourn and $15 million from the Indians in August in exchange for Chris Johnson, their primary motivation was to create payroll flexibility for the 2017 season. With the cash consideration compensating for Swisher's salary this year, Atlanta is now essentially paying an additional $6.5 million (the difference between Bourn's $14 million salary and Johnson's $7.5 million salary) in 2016 to gain $9 million of financial flexibility in 2017, when Johnson will make $9 million and have a $1 million buyout for '18.
Swisher did not enhance his value on the trade market as he batted .238 (10-for-42) with three doubles in 17 Grapefruit League games this year. He has hit .204/.291/.326 since the start of the 2014 season, when his knees began becoming problematic.
Since undergoing surgery on both knees in August 2014, Swisher has not returned to the level he was at when he hit at least 20 homers over nine consecutive seasons (2005-13). He is no longer required to wear the braces that adorned both knees last year, but decline in both mobility and power has significantly influenced the 35-year-old veteran's value.
"If he's with an American League team, he fits," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "But it would have been tough to get at-bats for him here."
Torres' fate might have been sealed on Sunday when the Braves brought him in to face four consecutive Nationals left-handed hitters and watched him put two on before retiring Daniel Murphy and Bryce Harper, who grounded out after watching the wind blow what would have been a monstrous home run foul.
Torres allowed six hits and issued five walks in eight innings this year. The non-roster invitee surrendered four hits and issued three walks while facing 22 left-handed hitters.
The Braves acquired Eric O'Flaherty from the Pirates on Sunday, but they will now be looking for at least one more left-hander to place in their bullpen on Opening Day. Hunter Cervenka has been mentioned as a potential internal candidate, but it seems more likely that the club will pursue an external option.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com.