If the Braves don’t re-sign Dansby Swanson, where will they spend the money?

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As we get deeper into the offseason, it seems less likely the Braves will re-sign Dansby Swanson. Earlier in the season, the club offered Swanson a deal somewhere in the $100 million ballpark, which was rejected. Most recently, Jon Heyman reported a rumor that the Braves rejected Swanson’s $140 million counteroffer. 

It’s become increasingly clear the Braves will not have the top offer for Swanson, so if he returns to Atlanta, it’ll be because the Georgia native wants to be with the Braves. However, contrary to popular belief, the club isn’t pinching pennies. If he’s not re-signed, it won’t be because of a lack of funds. It’ll be because Alex Anthopoulos doesn’t see Swanson’s asking price equivalent to his value.

If Swanson were able to replicate his 2022 campaign for the life of the contract, which should be five to six years, he’d surely be worth the $25-ish million per year. And if he doesn’t re-sign, it’s clear that AA feels the production wasn’t going to continue. As I said, though, it won’t be because of a lack of money.

The most senior level individuals in the Braves and Liberty Media organizations have stated a handful of times they expect the team to be a top-five payroll, which would likely happen if they re-signed Swanson. So, if they don’t end up using that money at shortstop and elect to roll with an internal option — Vaughn Grissom and Orlando Arcia — or sign a stopgap option like Elvis Andrus, where might the Braves allocate those resources?

Left field is undeniably the biggest hole on the roster outside of shortstop. The Braves could decide to roll with Marcell Ozuna, Eddie Rosario, and a couple of cheap veterans like Adam Duvall and Robbie Grossman to platoon. Or, the club could choose to pour significant money into the position by signing someone like Andrew Benintendi or Michael Conforto to a multi-year deal. Hell, the Braves could potentially make a run at Brandon Nimmo with the extra money saved by not re-signing Dansby Swanson.

If the club chooses to go with quantity over quality to fix the left field situation, they could use the funds originally meant for Swanson and the shortstop position to bolster the bullpen. The Braves already have a reliable relief core headed by Raisel IglesiasCollin McHughand A.J. Minter. Adding two of Adam Ottavino, Taylor Rogers, and Andrew Chaffin would make it arguably the deepest in baseball.

Despite boasting a starting rotation with only one open spot, Anthopoulos left the door open to signing a frontline starter at the beginning of the offseason. And if the Braves don’t re-sign Swanson, they’ll have the money to pursue someone like Chris Bassitt, Carlos Rodón, or Nathan Eovaldi to give Atlanta a five-headed monster.

The team could also pursue expensive trade targets instead of spending the money on Dansby Swanson. Liam Hendricks is a potential target. This past season, he closed 37 of 41 opportunities and struck out 13.3 batters per nine innings to go along with a 2.81 ERA. Hendricks is under contract for $14 million next season and comes with a $15 million club option in 2024. It would be an expensive acquisition, but it would give the Braves a lockdown trio of Hendricks, Iglesias, and Minter.

Bryan Reynolds is another potential trade target that could be paid with the funds initially allocated for Swanson. The Braves have been mentioned as a candidate to make a ‘strong, under-the-radar’ push for the Pirates All-Star, but it’ll cost more in assets to acquire him than it would to actually pay his salary, but the point remains.

There are plenty of other ways to upgrade the roster if the club doesn’t re-sign Dansby Swanson. And the Braves have the money to make just about any move that comes across their plate.

Photographer: Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire
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