The Braves have one big player they must retain this offseason, the 2020 NL MVP Freddie Freeman. I still have faith that gets done, but who else do the Braves need to retain? Charlie Morton and Travis d’Arnaud are back, yet there are still questions surrounding Adam Duvall, Eddie Rosario, Joc Pederson, and Jorge Soler. However, if you have a keen eye for titles, you know this article isn’t about them. It’s about one of the most polarizing players on the team, homegrown shortstop and former first overall pick Dansby Swanson.
#Braves extra-base hits leaders
66 Ozzie Albies
58 Dansby Swanson
55 Austin Riley
48 Freddie Freeman
44 Ronald Acuña Jr
— Pãul (@BravesStats) September 7, 2021
Some will point to Dansby’s streakiness and lower batting average to say he isn’t a great player. While I’ll admit that he strikes out more often than I would like, baseball fans tend to have a short memory. He’s only hitting .176 with a .587 OPS over his past 15 games, but despite that, he was still incredible as the Braves clawed their way to the top of the NL East.
Swanson (July 2021): .298/.348/.596/.944, 10 2B, 7 HR, 23 RBI, 8 BB, 26 K
Swanson (August 2021): .320/.378/.520/.898, 5 2B, 5 HR, 20 RBI, 9 BB, 14 K
Swanson’s strikeout rate is dropping; hopefully, that is sustainable because he is starting to find green grass everywhere. His .786 OPS and 58 extra base hits are more than enough to make up for the strikeouts. He has one more year of arbitration, but will the Braves choose to buy high and lock him up now? If so, what does a deal like that look like?
I’m not sure how keen the 2020 WAR leader at shortstop is of a hometown discount, so I’ll stick with fair market value. Right now, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to slot Dansby around Trevor Story and Marcus Semien. Both guys are power hitting shortstops and will be free agents this offseason. That’s another thing that plays into this; this shortstop class is absolutely loaded, and guys like the two aforementioned along with Corey Seager will get paid.
Something around $18 million over five seasons is fair for Dansby, which will last until he’s 32. Perhaps by “buying out” his final arbitration season, the Braves can swing a small discount. The Braves would be lucky to get Dansby for five years, $80 million, which clocks in at $16 million per season. I think we see something closer to five years, $90 million that averages around $18 million per season. I’m not sure the Braves will extend Dansby now, but they would be playing a dangerous game letting him get that close to free agency.