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.

Kinsler back with Rangers as special assistant to GM Young

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
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ARLINGTON, Texas — Former Texas Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler returned to the team as a special assistant to general manager Chris Young, his teammate in the organization’s minor league system nearly two decades ago.

Young said that Kinsler, who was part of the franchise’s only two World Series teams in 2010 and 2011, will be heavily involved in player development and providing mentorship to both players and staff.

Kinsler, a four-time All-Star, was part of a World Series championship with the Boston Red Sox in 2018, a year before his retirement. Kinsler played 14 seasons in the major leagues and spent the last three years in the front office of the San Diego Padres as a special assistant in baseball operations and player development. The 40-year-old has been living in the Dallas area, as he did throughout his playing career.

Kinsler played for the U.S. in the 2017 World Baseball Classic and Israel in last summer’s Olympics, and he will manage Israel in next month’s WBC.

Young and Kinsler were teammates for several weeks at Double-A Frisco in the summer of 2004, the same year the pitcher made his big league debut. They were in big league spring training together in 2005, then Young was traded after that season.

A 17th-round draft pick by Texas in 2003, Kinsler played 1,066 games for the Rangers from 2006-13, hitting .273 with 156 homers, 539 RBIs and 172 stolen bases. He hit .311 with a .422 on-base percentage in 34 postseason games. He was inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame last summer.

Kinsler hit .269 with 257 homers, 909 RBIs and 243 stolen bases in 1,888 career games overall with Texas, Detroit (2014-17), the Los Angeles Angels (2018), Boston (2018), and San Diego (2019). He is one of only two MLB second baseman with 30 homers and 30 stolen bases in multiple seasons, and had the only six-hit cycle in a nine-inning game since 1900 on April 15, 2009.