Following this season, Dansby Swanson will be a free agent. Although he’s bounced back from a turbulent start (and leads the team in fWAR), I’m not so sure Atlanta will re-sign such a streaky bat, who could definitely end up receiving $20 million a year from a desperate club this offseason. Swanson’s a winning ballplayer that has been critical to the Braves’ success, but most of his value lies in his defense, which will likely decline as he continues to age. For that reason, and the fact that there are a few bona fide stars at the position that will also be hitting free agency this upcoming offseason, I could see the Braves moving on.
The former National and current Dodger is one of the best shortstops in baseball. Turner possesses a rare blend of speed and power, and Baseball Savant backs that up — he ranks in the top 9 percent of qualified hitters for max exit velocity, and has the top sprint speed in the league. Turner may not compare to Swanson in the field, but the offense he provides more than makes up for that. He’s one of the most exciting and underrated players in the league. Adding him to the top of the lineup would give the Braves arguably the best offense in baseball.
I am not a Carlos Correa fan, but there’s no denying he’s a star. A glance at his 2021 Statcast numbers show just how well-rounded he can be while healthy. Shockingly, there isn’t a single blue dot to be seen — the former Astro is also in the top 5% for max exit velocity, expected batting average, and outs above average. Correa can play outstanding defense while hitting for both power and contact. However, injuries have plagued him over his career, and he’s currently on the IL for the Twins.
Xander Bogaerts is another shortstop option for Atlanta, and a perennial MVP contender. In each of the past four seasons, he has drawn MVP votes while hitting over twenty homers in three of those. The man mashes, but like so many power hitters, he has some swing and miss in his game. Bogaerts was in the bottom quarter of the league in chase rate last season. However, you’ll live with the swing and miss when he’s constantly recording an OPS of around .900.
All three of these players will likely command upwards of $25-30 million per year on the open market and will be looking for long-term deals. Money and longevity are two things that Liberty Media tend to avoid, so it won’t be easy to work something out. However, Atlanta will have the contracts of Charlie Morton and Kenley Jansen coming off the books after this season, and might look for an Ozuna trade at some point. The Braves have also shown a lot more willingness to pony up some cash in recent seasons, and all signs point to the payroll continuing to rise. Eventually, I think they will sign a mega-star free agent to a highly lucrative deal, and upgrading at shortstop looks to be their best option this offseason, given the free agent class at the position.