Where could Dansby Swanson sign if he doesn’t return to Atlanta?

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The hottest topic surrounding the Braves this season is Dansby Swanson. Atlanta has solidified most positions on the roster. Despite the left field situation needing addressing, it’s not nearly as pressing of a need as shortstop. Alex Anthopoulos has made it overly apparent the club is preparing for the worst-case scenario — Swanson walking — with Vaughn Grissom and Orlando Arcia taking over the position. Nobody in Braves Country wants that to happen.

In reality, it should be Swanson or bust for the Braves, who will have championship aspirations every season for the better part of the next decade. Swanson is a proven leader, the best defensive shortstop in baseball, and arguably one of the best all-around shortstops when his bat is hot. With such a loaded free agent class, the former No. 1 overall pick is sure to get paid handsomely this winter, regardless of who it’s from.

With Trea Turner, Xander Bogaerts, and Carlos Correa testing free agency, Swanson will have a bevy of potential suitors. And to make matters worse for the Braves, there are several big market teams with a hole at shortstop. The Dodgers, Giants, Red Sox, Angels, Cubs, and Twins are monitoring the situation very closely. And if he doesn’t re-sign with the Braves, Jim Bowden of The Athletic thinks he’ll end up in Boston to the tune of $154 million over six years.

A first-time All-Star this year, Swanson is coming off a career-best season for WAR and OPS+, and he will be paid accordingly. Swanson’s intangibles can’t be measured by statistics and analytics alone. There is no algorithm that can measure his ability to almost always be in the right place at the right time on the field. The angles he takes in the infield, his first-step quickness and his knack for getting the big hit are elite and can’t be fully captured by numbers.

I’d like to see Swanson return to the Braves, but if he reaches free agency, several teams will pursue him. And if the Red Sox lose Bogaerts, Swanson would be a perfect fit for them. His value in free agency would probably fall more in line with what the Boston front office thinks is fair, so I could see a deal similar to what they gave Trevor Story last offseason (six years, $140 million). Swanson would probably receive a little more due to inflation, but I’d expect a similar range. The Red Sox would feel a lot more comfortable with a six-year deal for Swanson than they would be with a 10-yea

I could see almost any team being interested in Swanson. He’s elite defensively, and with the shift ban taking place next season, there will be a premium on that facet of the game moving forward. And when he’s on offensively, Swanson has an argument for the best shortstop in the game. In that same breath, he’s an incredibly streaky hitter, and it’s undoubtedly possible AA feels his 2022 campaign was a flash in the pan. If I had to put money on it, though, I believe the Braves will bring Dansby Swanson back.

David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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