in 2015, Dansby Swanson He presented himself to the major leagues as a first draft overall with high marks for his glove work and his ability to hit drive lines. As it turns out, it would take Swanson seven years to record a breakout All-Star season and blossom into one of the best shortstops in the game.
Now exploring free agency at 28 years old, Swanson has developed into the consistent, seasoned athlete we’ve been waiting for. The question is, does Swanson’s enhanced value put him in the franchise’s short points conversation?
The Atlanta Braves I’ve given careful thought to that question and it seems increasingly like the organization’s answer is that Swanson could become the franchise shortstop, but he’s not quite there yet. As such, the Braves would be willing to keep Swanson for the right price, but maybe not at the above price. Swanson’s free agency may depend on how much money he’s willing to give up to stay in Atlanta.
So Swanson, a native of Kennesaw, Georgia, who rose through the ranks with Atlanta and spent seven seasons playing for his favorite boyhood team, has other offers. Swanson’s free agency timing means he’s not at the top of the list of contenders. But the best career season Swanson has just had means he will remain a welcome addition to one of the many teams looking to fill a hole at shortstop this winter. And one of those many teams would pay upwards of $100 million to get him.
Swanson joined free agency in a class rich in elite shortstops, incl Tria TurnerAnd the Carlos Correa And the Xander Bogaerts. Swanson is expected to receive the most modest long-term deal among those short stops in the free agency pool this year, with industry experts suggesting his successful 2022 season will require somewhere in the range of $20-25 million or more over five or six years.
The Braves and other top competitors certainly appreciate Swanson’s defense. The above-average 21 runs he earned last season was the most of all MLB shortstops, which led to his first career Gold Glove award of the year. His lag was only 6.4 fWAR Francisco Lindor (6.8 fWAR) among major league shortstops.
“He’s become a great player,” Braves president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos said at GM meetings this month. “He’s arguably the best shortstop defensive player in the game with the job he’s done.”
On the opposite side of the ball, Swanson’s 26.1% strike rate was the third highest among all shortstops—higher than Swanson’s infamous strike rate. Javier Baez, which had the fourth highest strike rate of 24.9%. And even though Swanson just posted 25 consecutive home run seasons, his 776 OPS game last season isn’t quite as attractive as those posted by Correa (.834), Bogaerts (.833) and Turner (.809). While it’s undeniable that Swanson isn’t in the same class as Correa, Bogaerts, and Turner offensively, Swanson’s 116 wRC+ indicates he was still 16% better at the plate than the average MLB hitter.
In the void, Swanson’s still-dull offense suggests the Braves can find a better free agency hitter in this offseason by letting him walk and, instead, going to one of their three best shortstops. Signing Correa would be the most impressive move, while signing Turner, who was said to be willing to leave Los Angeles In favor of the East Coast team, it would also make sense for the Braves. But for now, Atlanta is looking at home.
Those hoping for a Swanson Braves reunion received unfavorable news last week when The Athletic reported that Atlanta is already beginning to groom its rising star, von Grissomto move to the team’s starting shortstop.
Grissom, who primarily played shortstop in the minors but was called up to play second base, posted 121 OPS+ in 41 games with the Braves after his mid-August promotion to the major leagues. This winter in New Orleans, Grissom is training under Braves third base coach Ron Washington, considered one of the best coaches in the game. According to the report, Washington recently told Anthopolous he could have Grissom ready to play shortstop full-time by spring training.
“I don’t think Swanson can be replaced unless they get a star,” Washington told The Athletic. “But we can handle the situation. We have (Orlando) Arcia, and we have Grissom – this kid is getting better every day. I’m telling you, it’s getting much better.”
Swanson’s strength lies in his aforementioned defense, but also in his durability.
The 362 games played at the 6-foot-1, 190-pound shortstop are the most in MLB since the start of 2020. He led the league in the 2022 All-Star season by playing all 162 games. He finished 12th in National League Player of the Year balloting, receiving 23 votes. Unlike Correa and his involvement in the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal, Swanson comes off with no baggage. At 28, he’s a few months older than Corea, but younger than Turner and Bogart, and definitely playing in his prime. Swanson’s ability to post, make big plays and get big hits has helped lead the Braves to the 2021 championship, and he’ll instantly become an integral part of any other contender’s roster.
The Dodgerswith an old teammate Freddie Freeman First work rule, it would be a good fit for Swanson should Turner leave Hollywood. Other teams that need a shortstop, or already have someone who could leave and would pay for Swanson include CubsAnd the red socksAnd the tigersAnd the AngelsAnd the Veles — and that’s just to name a handful among a larger pool of interested suitors.
Aaron Judge, Tria Turner and Justin Verlander are MLB free agency
Who Are Ben Verlander’s Top 10 MLB Free Agents? He and Alex Curry go in the rankings.
As things stand today, it increasingly looks as if Swanson’s offense will never justify his rank as a former first overall pick – especially when considering Alex Bergman He was selected second overall in the 2015 class draft. But Swanson always looked destined for stardom. He built his 2022 season on the case that his defense is more than bearable; It’s great. His general make-up includes being reliable on the field and uncontroversial off the field.
It looks like Swanson’s first experience in free agency will see teams bid more money than the Braves are willing to allocate for their short seven-year stoppage. What he decides to do next will determine whether he becomes the franchise shortstop for the team he grew up supporting, or whether he tries to fill that role elsewhere. But one thing is clear: The Braves are letting Swanson charm with better performances. And he might take another team in one.
Disha Thosar is an MLB writer for FOX Sports. She previously covered the Mets as a good correspondent for the New York Daily News. Follow her on Twitter at @Disha.
Get more from Major League Baseball Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more