For the most part, the Braves core is intact for the foreseeable future, but one significant piece will test the waters of unrestricted free agency exactly one year after Freddie Freeman departed for Los Angeles. Dansby Swanson is currently the longest tenured member of the Braves, which almost feels unfathomable. It feels like just yesterday he was making his debut as the hometown kid from Marietta High School. Now, we could be witnessing his final few weeks in a Braves uniform.
I’ve talked about this at length several times, but the Braves shortstop is set to get paid handsomely this offseason. Will he fetch $300 million like Trea Turner or Carlos Correa? No, but anybody who thinks the Braves will re-sign Swanson well below market value because he’s from Atlanta is fooling themselves. Swanson is about to receive 150+ million, and according to MLB insider John Heyman, he is the Braves’ top priority of the winter.
“Braves rookie Vaughn Grissom is great but isn’t yet seen as long-term starting shortstop,” said Heyman. “So their target remains re-signing free-agent-to-be Dansby Swanson, now a Gold Glove candidate. Even so, he’s in a tough spot in negotiations as an Atlanta product.”
After a sluggish start, Swanson has turned in the best season of his career, ranking 11th in all of baseball in fWAR. He’s a legitimate Gold Glove candidate at arguably the most important position on the diamond, and his strides offensively over the last three seasons will make him coveted by any team with an opening at shortstop, especially ones that want to avoid paying top dollar for Correa and Turner.
Heyman’s bit about Vaughn Grissom is also interesting, and it’s something I’ve been telling everyone who wants to discuss the future of Dansby Swanson. I love Grissom and feel that he has a chance to do a lot of stellar things in the majors, but the Braves can’t go into next year with him as their only option at shortstop. He hasn’t shown enough, especially defensively, to suggest he’s ready to take over the position full time.
Dansby Swanson is the leader in the Braves clubhouse and an ultimate competitor. Losing someone like that just a year after letting Freddie Freeman walk out the door would be incredibly difficult to bounce back from again. Swanson has to be the Braves top priority, but with so many people guaranteed to be competing for his services, it might be even more difficult to retain him than it was Freeman.
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