CLEVELAND -- When Nick Swisher arrived to Progressive Field on Friday, he was expecting to be activated from the disabled list and in the lineup for the Indians. Winding up with a row of cardboard boxes in front of his locker was not a part of the veteran's plans.
A stunned Swisher instead was informed that he was traded to the Braves, along with outfielder Michael Bourn, for corner infielder Chris Johnson. All the work Swisher put in over the past six weeks to come back from another setback with his knees turned out to be for another ballclub.
"It kinda caught me off guard," Swisher said. "I was getting myself ready to play tonight."
Prior to the 2013 season, the Indians brought both Swisher and Bourn in as the faces of the franchise's turnaround. Coming off a forgettable showing in '12, the pair of outfielders signed long-term deals with the Indians and helped lead the team to the American League Wild Card Game in their first year in Cleveland. Since that memorable run to the October stage, their time with the Tribe has been riddled with injuries and inconsistency on the field.
With the Indians in last place in the AL Central, the team has started taking steps to plan for 2016 and beyond. It began with deals last month that shipped Brandon Moss, David Murphy and Marc Rzepczynski to other teams in the days leading up to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. During the current waiver period, Swisher and Bourn cleared, allowing the Indians to explore the trade with the Braves.
"I've been through it before," said Bourn, who has been traded three times, including twice to Atlanta. "This is my second time going back to the same place, so I'm excited about it. Of course, things here didn't work out great. We didn't have a bad time. We played pretty good, but this year is not what we expected it to be."
Swisher signed the largest free-agent pact in Indians history when he penned his name on the four-year, $56-million contract that included a vesting option for 2017. Bourn followed suit later in the same winter, joining the Tribe on a four-year, $48-million contract with a vesting option for '17.
While Swisher was surprised to be traded, he knew the Indians were looking to go in a different direction.
"You could kind of tell from the moves that were being made," Swisher said. "You kind of knew what was happening. You always never think it's going to be you. Then, I came in here today and got the news. Now I'm just excited, packing up all my stuff."
Bourn said "the most disappointing part" about the situation was that he and Swisher were not able to help the Indians build on what they accomplished in 2013.
"In 2014, we had a chance. We were in it for the most part until the last week," Bourn said. "This year, we hadn't played over .500 baseball the whole year to me. That's what happens in sports. You wish it didn't, but you see it happen all the time. They have some good pieces here in [Michael Brantley and Jason Kipnis], the pitching staff of course, and they've got young talent in [Francisco Lindor and Giovanny Urshela].
"So, they're going to develop them. I think they're getting Chris Johnson back in the trade, so they'll still have pieces with what they already have. Good luck to them, unless they're playing against me."