Braves would be wise to extend Dansby Swanson before the season

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The Braves have a lot on their plate, with their top priority being the re-signing of Freddie Freeman. They also have several holes in the outfield and could still use some additions to their pitching staff. However, general managers are paid the big bucks to spin multiple plates simultaneously, particularly during the offseason. If this offseason has taught us anything, it’s that the Braves should get out in front of an extension for their shortstop Dansby Swanson, whose contract is up at the end of the 2022 season.

Swanson’s one of the more polarizing figures among Braves fans. In his first couple of seasons after being selected first overall, he struggled mightily adjusting to the majors. However, by year three in 2019, it looked like he was turning the corner after hitting .270 and smacking 17 homers in the first half of the season, leading to an .822 OPS. But unfortunately, Swanson suffered a heel injury in the second half and never looked the same once he returned.

2020 was Swanson’s best season to date, even if it was a shortened campaign. He finished 18th in the NL MVP race after hitting .270 with 10 home runs and leading all shortstops in bWAR while playing all 60 games. 2021 started painfully slow. Swanson didn’t cross the Mendoza Line until the first of May; however, from that moment to the end of the season, he recorded a more than respectable .795 OPS, thanks to his 25 homers over that stretch.

Swanson may never live up to the ridiculous amount of hype the Braves put into him as a hometown kid and #1 overall pick, but he’s no chump, either. This is an above-average offensive shortstop, capable of hitting 30 homers, that plays incredible defense at the most important position on the diamond, and I would argue that his best baseball is ahead of him. On top of that, Swanson is an invaluable clubhouse presence, and the Braves really don’t have an option in the minors close to being ready to replace him.

Unless they prefer someone else that is set to become a free agent, extending Swanson is something that must get done. And if the Braves have learned anything from the Freddie Freeman debacle, it’s better to get a deal done now than later, especially when considering just how bonkers the market for shortstops has been this offseason. If Swanson has a good year in 2022 and hits the open market, there’s no doubt that he will reach the $100 million threshold, and it could go well past that. Perhaps the Braves don’t feel he’s worth anywhere near that and decide to move on, but if Swanson is in their future plans, they need to get a deal done before the start of next season.

 

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