The opinions on Dansby Swanson amongst many Braves fans are split. Some people, like myself (and most educated fans… kidding… kind of), believe Swanson has progressed in his development each season, culminating in his 2022 campaign, which ended with an All-Star nomination and Gold Glove award. He was one of the best shortstops in the game this season, and if that’s who he is moving forward, he deserves a contract north of $200 million. Others are wary that Swanson’s breakout campaign was just a flash in the pan. Assuming regression is in line, his next contract could be a nuisance for the organization that gives it to him.
While I believe Swanson will continue to look like the player he was in 2022, I understand both sides of the argument. It’s why I genuinely believe the Braves retaining him is right around a 50/50 chance. However, if what Keith Law has predicted is correct, that percentage is much lower.
Swanson’s walk year didn’t look like any season he’d had before, as he played elite defense at short for the first time ever, made more hard contact than ever, and posted the worst walk rate of his career. By OAA, Swanson was the second-most valuable fielder in all of baseball, preventing 20 outs and 15 runs above average, behind only Detroit second baseman Jonathan Schoop (a former shortstop), an incredible showing that was at least two grades better than Swanson’s previously established level.
At the plate, he continued what has been a career-long trend of getting more aggressive in the zone, yet did so without expanding, posting a below-average chase rate again this year. You might get him to chase off-speed stuff down and over the plate, but otherwise, you have to come into or close to the zone, which seems to explain the boost in his contact quality. He might never be a strong on-base guy, but a plus defensive shortstop, which would still be a step down from his 2022 showing, who can hit 30 doubles and 25 homers a year is a very valuable player, and he should be looking for similar deals to Turner and Bogaerts, 6-8 years and $30 million-plus per year.
To put in perspective how valuable Law believes Swanson is worth, he had the Braves shortstop ranked third among all free agents this year, ahead of some guy named Aaron Judge.
It’s evident Law is higher than most on Swanson (even me, a well-known member of the Dansby Swanson fan club). I don’t think most organizations will value Swanson more than they will Judge. With that being said, all it takes is one team to be infatuated with Swanson for him to fetch a contract north of $200 million.
At a minimum, Dansby Swanson is looking at a contract of $150 million this offseason. However, it shouldn’t shock anyone if rumors begin to surface of offers well above that number. That’s the going rate for elite shortstops these days, and Swanson proved this past season he can play like an elite shortstop — both with the glove and at the plate. Mix in his team-first attitude and first-rate clubhouse presence, and there are going to be organizations backing up the Brinks truck for his services this winter.
Photo: Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire