The Braves really only have one glaring hole on the roster, and that’s at shortstop. With Dansby Swanson testing free agency for the first time in his career, the club will have to fill the void, and there are several directions Alex Anthopoulos can go.
The most straightforward option would be to re-sign Swanson. He’s a leader in the clubhouse and is the best defensive shortstop in baseball, which will be at a premium with the shift ban taking place. But there’s no doubt 2022 was the best season of his career, and his value has never been higher. Swanson could be a bit overvalued as it stands right now, so AA could go with an internal replacement like Vaughn Grissom and Orlando Arica, the former of which has been working with Ron Washington this offseason.
That wouldn’t be the ideal scenario, but it’s a possibility. Anthopoulos could also turn to the trade market to replace a fan favorite for the second straight season. Willy Adames has been a trade candidate that we have talked about at length, and that possibility is actually more likely than initially thought, given the Braves’ logjam of starting pitchers at the AAA and Major League levels. Still, there are more obvious avenues the Braves President of Baseball Operations could take.
The free agent class is star-studded, and Swanson is only the fourth-best option. The club could choose to go after Xander Bogaerts, Carlos Correa, or Trea Turner. Those marquee free agents will cost more than Swanson, but they’re also apparent upgrades. The Braves haven’t been known to make a splash signing like this in the past, but with so many of their core pieces locked up at affordable rates and payroll expected to rise, this could be a first for Liberty Media.
Bogaerts, Correa, and Turner all have their strengths and weaknesses, but there’s no wrong direction here. And most recently, Mark Feinsand of MLB.com dubbed Turner the prize of a loaded free agent class while noting the Braves are, in fact, potential suitors.
“Like the Red Sox, the Braves have their own free-agent shortstop in Swanson. Atlanta doesn’t typically get involved with top-tier free agents, but the core of the team is signed to team-friendly contracts — so the Braves could make a run at Turner, who has thrived against Atlanta throughout his career.”
In my perfect world, the Braves would sign Turner. He’s the best offensive shortstop in the game, which more than makes up for his defensive decline in recent seasons. I wouldn’t be shocked if the club decided to roll the dice in any direction. AA has been known to keep his intentions close to the vest, but he won’t let Swanson’s agent back him in a corner. If the value isn’t there, expect the Braves to look elsewhere, and as Feinsand reports, Trea Turner is a legit possibility.
Photographer: John McCoy/Icon Sportswire
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