Opinions on Dansby Swanson among many Braves fans are divided. Some people, like me (and most educated fans…just kidding…sort of), believe that Swanson has progressed in his development each season, culminating with his 2022 campaign, which ended with an All-Star nomination and a Gold Glove award. He was one of the best shortstops in the game this season, and if that’s what he gets going, he deserves a contract north of $200 million. Others fear Swanson’s escape campaign was a flash in the pan. Assuming the regression is online, his next contract could be a nuisance for the organization giving it to him.
While I think Swanson will continue to look like the player he was in 2022, I understand both sides of the argument. That’s why I sincerely believe the Braves retaining him have a 50/50 chance.. However, if what Keith Law predicted is correct, that percentage is much lower.
Swanson’s walking year was unlike any season he had had before as he played elite short defense for the first time, made tougher contact than ever and posted the worst rate of course of his career. Per OAA, Swanson was the second most valuable defenseman in all of baseball, preventing 20 outs and 15 runs over average, trailing only Detroit second baseman Jonathan Schoop (a former shortstop), an incredible performance that was at least two grades better than Swanson’s previously set standard.
At plate, he continued what has been a career-long trend to become more aggressive in the zone, but did so without extending, posting a below-average chase rate again this year. You could get him chasing off-speed stuff down and over the plate, but otherwise you have to get in or close to the zone, which seems to explain his improved contact quality. He may never be a strong guy on base, but a more defensive shortstop, who would still be a step down from his 2022 performance, who can hit 30 doubles and 25 homers a year is a player very valuable, and he should be looking for deals similar to Turner and Bogaerts, 6-8 years and $30 million+ a year.
To put Swanson’s value to Law in perspective, he ranked the Braves shortstop third among all free agents this year, ahead of a guy named Judge Aaron.
It’s obvious that Law is higher than most on Swanson (even me, a well-known member of the Dansby Swanson fan club). I don’t think most organizations will value Swanson more than they think he does. That being said, it only takes one team to be infatuated with Swanson for him to land a contract north of $200 million.
At a minimum, Dansby Swanson is eyeing a $150 million deal this offseason. However, it should come as no surprise if rumors start to surface of deals well above that number. That’s the going rate for elite shortstops these days, and Swanson proved last season that he can play like an elite shortstop — both with the glove and at the plate. Mix his team attitude and his top-notch club presence, and there will be organizations backing the Brinks truck for his services this winter.
Photo: Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire