Earlier this week, I talked about how Keith Law had Dansby Swanson #3 on his list of the Top 50 MLB Free Agents, which was actually ahead of Aaron Judge. I don’t know if I’m that high on Swanson, but he did prove to be one of the best shortstops in the league in 2022, and Law expects him to get paid.
“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,” Law said about Swanson, via The Athletic. “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.”
I’ve been saying all year Swanson is set to receive the bag this offseason. The going rate for the best shortstops is well north of $200 million, and there are a ton of big market teams with an opening at the position. All it takes is one to offer him a top-of-the-line contract, and the Braves will be forced to make another gut-wrenching decision.
But Swanson wasn’t the only Braves player Law had on his list of the Top 50 Free Agents, and the other likely isn’t someone you were expecting — Jake Odorizzi came in at #44.
Odorizzi was awful for Atlanta after a deadline trade sent him there from Houston, although it looks like some bad luck, especially on the longball; he is who he’s been for the last few years, a perfectly cromulent fifth starter. Odorizzi keeps most of his stuff out of the heart of the zone and limits hard contact, although he’s a little short of the true formula for success for a guy with fringy velocity: He doesn’t have elite fastball command, and he walks a few too many guys each year. He did miss time in 2022 with a freakish leg injury, but there isn’t any obvious reason why he couldn’t make 25-plus starts next year. There’s no ceiling here, just some reliability, with the risk that he loses more fastball velocity and ends up unable to limit the homers. I’d give him a year or two at $5-8 million per.
This is just proof that everybody sees the game a little differently. I think all Braves fans would agree that Odorizzi is washed. I would be shocked if he ended up back in Atlanta, but Law thinks he’s still a valuable asset, more so than Joc Pederson, who didn’t even make the list.
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