The Athletic predicts Braves sign superstar if Dansby Swanson walks in free agency

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Despite reports the Braves won’t be spending big this winter on a shortstop if Dansby Swanson doesn’t re-sign, there are those who believe otherwise. For starters, I don’t believe Alex Anthopoulos will turn to a combination of Orlando Arcia and Vaughn Grissom, regardless of how much Ron Washington talks up Grissom.

Moreover, the executives of Liberty Media and the team have remained adamant about having a top-five payroll in baseball. That doesn’t happen unless the club signs one of the big four free agent shortstops — Swanson, Xander Bogaerts, Carlos Correa, or Trea Turner. Even more interesting, Jim Bowden of The Athletic believes the Braves will sign Turner to the tune of $264 million over eight years if Swanson walks in free agency.

Turner had the best offensive season among this group, hitting 21 home runs and stealing 27 bags. He can play second base or shortstop, which expands the pool of interested teams. He has a strong hit tool with speed and power, which suggests he will age well, even when he slows down in his mid-to-late 30s. He can hit leadoff, second or third. He can manufacture a run with his speed or hit a three-run homer to put his team ahead.

The Braves are a great geographic fit for Turner. He went to high school in Florida and college at North Carolina State. He would fit nicely in the Braves’ lineup with Ronald Acuña Jr. and Michael Harris II at the top of the order, followed by the power bats of Austin Riley and Matt Olson. The Braves can afford to sign Turner to a “market deal,” if they want to, because they’ve done such a great job of signing their core players to below-market deals. Adding Turner would give the Braves arguably the best projected lineup in baseball for the next five to seven years.

SportsTalkATL has been outspoken about wanting Trea Turner and what’s not to love. He’s the best offensive shortstop in baseball and would give Atlanta the most dangerous lineup in all of baseball. He’d slot in perfectly, but there are downsides. With the shift ban taking place next season, there is an emphasis on defensive abilities, which is where Turner comes up a little bit short. Still, his offensive value far outweighs his defensive limitations. Nobody in Braves Country would be disappointed if Trea Turner came to Atlanta.

It’ll be interesting to see this all play out because Ken Rosenthal is as plugged in as any insider in baseball, and he reports it’s Dansby Swanson or bust for the Braves. Still, Terry McGuirk and other executives continue to say the club plans to have a top-five payroll in baseball. There are conflicting reports, and there’s no telling what the outcome will be. The Braves play everything close to the vest, so nobody truly knows their plans.

Photographer: John McCoy/Icon Sportswire

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