The Braves are in a very fortuitous spot moving forward. Alex Anthopoulos has done most of the dirty work already, locking in his young core for the foreseeable future. Now, he just has to fill in the missing pieces around the talent he already has. The Braves have very few pending free agents, but there is one noticeable situation that must be taken care of.
Unless a deal comes to fruition in the coming weeks, Dansby Swanson is going to test unrestricted free agency, which could be a nightmare for the Braves. Everyone that has a need at shortstop will be interested in Swanson, and he could push the $200 million mark.
Jeff Passan of ESPN recently ranked the upcoming free agency class into tiers, and Swanson fell into Tier 2, which consisted of eight fantastic players.
At this point it’s safe to call Swanson a good offensive player. One-year defensive metrics are split on him — OAA says he has been the best shortstop in baseball, UZR deems him average — but scouts see Swanson as the guy who makes all the plays he should, which is a high compliment. Swanson, 29 on Opening Day, won’t break the bank. But he’s going to put a hefty dent in it.
To put this into perspective, Passan only had four players in Tier 1 — Aaron Judge, Jacob deGrom, Trea Turner and Nolan Arenado. I agree, Swanson isn’t quite on those guys’ level. However, he was included with several other superstars in Tier 2. The seven other players in that tier were Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts, Carlos Rodon, Justin Verlander, Edwin Diaz, Chris Bassitt, and Koudai Senga. That’s some elite company, and all of those players are set to receive massive paydays come the winter.
After Swanson, though, Alex Anthopoulos has some pretty easy decisions on the rest of the Braves free agent class. Only two other Braves were listed in Passan’s article — Charlie Morton and Kenley Jansen — and they were slotted in Tier 4.
In my opinion, these decisions are pretty cut and dry. Morton had a good run with the Braves, but he has a $20 million option, and I highly doubt the Braves pick that up. I think they’ll look to upgrade the rotation in free agency with that money. Jansen is also unlikely to return. His time in Atlanta hasn’t gone as well as we hoped, but just like Will Smith last year, all of that will be forgotten with a magical postseason run.
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