Chris Johnson

Indians trade Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn and cash to the Braves for Chris Johnson

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The Indians have traded Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn and cash to the Braves in exchange for third baseman Chris Johnson. Yahoo’s Tim Brown was the first to report that Swisher was likely on the move. Joel Sherman reported that Johnson was going back to Cleveland and that Bourn and money was included in the deal. The Indians just sent out a press release making the deal official.

It’s a classic exchange of some bad contracts and, for the Braves, making some room for a more desirable player.

Swisher, who will be owed $15 million next season, is on the disabled list. He has proven to be an exceptionally poor signing for the Indians, having hit .228/.311/.377 in 1,146 plate appearances since inking a four-year, $56 million prior to the 2013 season, becoming their highest paid player. Bourn’s deal has not been much better. He signed a $48 million deal prior to 2013, and will be owed $14 million in 2016 with a vesting option for 2017. He has hit .257/.315/.345 in 1,388 plate appearances.

Johnson is signed through 2017 with a 2018 club option. He’s guaranteed $7.5 million next year, $9 million in 2017 and a $1 million buyout (or $10 million in salary if the option is exercised) for 2018. He’s hit .283/.317/.396 since being acquired from the Diamondbacks in the Justin Upton deal before 2013. The Braves gave him an extension in May of last year which the current regime was likely not to pleased about.

So, the Indians lose their two biggest salary albatrosses and get Johnson. The Braves pick up a couple of reclamation projects — one of which, Bourn, played for them previously — and some cash relief to make gambles on them a bit more palatable. They also clear up third base for the newly acquired Hector Olivera who, while 30, is considered by the team to be the first offensive “building block” of their on-the-fly rebuild.