Braves named free agent winners despite losing Dansby Swanson


Braves Country has polar opposite opinions on Dansby Swanson signing with the Cubs. Some believe Chicago overpaid, and those people have an argument. At $25 million per season for the next seven years, Swanson will have to play at an All-Star-caliber level for the entirety of the deal, which is unlikely. Others believe the Braves are at fault, and they also have an argument. Rolling with Vaughn Grissom is a massive gamble, and it could bite the Braves in the ass. However, what nobody is doing is calling the team winners of the offseason… except for Amy Westbrook…

5. Atlanta Braves. Yes, even though the Braves lost Swanson, I’m calling them winners. They are where they are, in part, because they show organizational discipline, keep churning out prospects and have managed to sign most of those young players to long-term deals. The highest annual-average-value contracts on the roster belong to Austin Riley ($21.2 million) and Matt Olson ($21 million). Swanson’s seven-year, $177 million deal with the Cubs comes in at over $25 million a year. Do you want to pay him more than you’re paying Riley or Olson, let alone Ronald Acuna Jr. and Michael Harris II? Plus, letting Swanson walk improves the team’s chances of handing out big money to keep ace Max Fried.

As good as Swanson was in 2022 (5.7 WAR), this past season stands out compared to the rest of his career (an average of 2.8 WAR per 162 games). This deal would have made Swanson Atlanta’s highest-paid player, gambling that 2022 wasn’t merely a career season. Yes, some regarded Swanson as the heart and soul of the Braves, and perhaps the club will miss that work ethic and attitude. But the Braves are in the best position of any franchise outside of perhaps the Los Angeles Dodgers to remain competitive over the long haul — in part because they haven’t gambled on contracts like this one. I think it was the right decision.

“Plus, letting Swanson walk improves the team’s chances of handing out big money to keep ace Max Fried,” should be music to Braves Country’s ears. Even though it’s not likely, it could make sense that the Braves would allocate the initial funds meant for Swanson to an extension for Fried. Just as Westbrook stated, the Braves are in as good of a position as any club in baseball to be successful over the long term.

The front office and coaching staff have done an excellent job of acquiring talent, developing it, and locking up those talented players to long-term deals that could look like bargains. There is risk in these contracts, though. There’s no guarantee that Michael Harris II or Spencer Strider will replicate what we saw over the 2022 campaign, but the Braves are betting on it.

Whether you think the Braves made a mistake over Dansby Swanson, the club is still a perennial championship contender and will be for the better part of the next decade due to their process. It’s probably best to give Alex Anthopoulos and the rest of the organization the benefit of the doubt in these situations.


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