For the first time since Dansby Swanson signed with the Cubs, Alex Anthopoulos sat down with Jeff Schultz of The Athletic to divulge. You need a subscription, but it is an incredibly transparent interview that we will break down into several different pieces. This one is dedicated to the Braves GM commenting on the lack of similarities between how Freddie Freeman’s situation unfolded and Swanson’s.
Dansby’s value went up enormously this year. Before Freeman’s 2021 season, Liberty Media wanted to wait to see if fans returned post-pandemic before committing to an offer. In both cases would you agree it backfired on you and the Braves that neither was signed to an extension before their final seasons in Atlanta.
I don’t think they’re comparable, other than they’re two great players. In fairness to Freddie, I don’t want to rehash any of that. Ultimately, we felt we were competitive with our offers to Freddie, but he ended up getting a great contract. He got $162 million. However you want to slice it, he got more than what we offered. But it was a much smaller gap. This was a much more significant gap. There’s no comparison for me, other than they’re both elite players. I compared this negotiation more to Josh Donaldson. We wanted to keep him. We had a young player in Austin Riley, who we really liked, but we were prepared to have him wait his turn if we could sign Josh back. But we were a lot less than where the Twins were. Very similar here in that Dansby got an incredible deal that he deserves, and we have a young player, Vaughn Grissom, who we think in the long run will be a very good player, we don’t know when.
I like to think of the two situations like this: if you had told a random Braves fan of the two players’ respective contracts a year before they signed, which would be more believable? Freddie Freeman’s is the obvious answer. He’s one of the greatest Braves in franchise history and is hopefully bound for the Hall of Fame. The deal he received from the Dodgers was just as lucrative as the Braves’ offer, or at least in the same ballpark. Swanson’s situation was much different.
Dansby Swanson benefited from a bizarre market. There were only four high-quality options at shortstop in free agency, and demand far outreached that supply. Swanson was the beneficiary of a career season in a contract year with more than a handful of teams bidding for his services. If you asked a Braves fan a year ago if they would believe Swanson signed for $25 million per season for seven years, I imagine they’d be shocked.
It isn’t easy to see stars like that go, but Anthopoulos is right on the money, per usual. The situations differ. The way the Austin Riley-Josh Donaldson scenario played out is much more similar to what’s happening at shortstop in Atlanta right now. The incumbent starter and free agent was out of the organization’s price range, resulting in trusting a young guy to take the reins. Now, I’m not saying Vaughn Grissom will turn out just like Riley, the highest-paid player on the team, but the paths each took are alike.
Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire