With the Atlanta Braves knocked out of the NLDS by the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday afternoon, the “will he or won’t he” questions about the future of Dansby Swanson in Atlanta can officially begin.
The Dansby Swanson question for the Atlanta Braves has begun earlier than many expected
Scheduled to become a free agent with the offseason officially begins, the 28-year-old Swanson is sure to be one of the hottest names thrown around this winter. The former overall number one pick is expected to be one of the members of what could be a very attractive shortstop free agent class, names that could include Xander Bogaerts, Carlos Correa, and Trea Turner.
MLB insider Jon Heyman reported back in August that the Atlanta Braves had begun talks with Swanson about an extension. Our own David Hill wrote that same month why a six-year, $140 million deal might be a baseline for where Braves and Swanson begin the conversation.
The two questions from Braves fans this offseason will focus on these things: Will Swanson stay and will the Braves be able to reach a deal with him? After watching the Freddie Freeman drama last offseason, there could be more of the same this year as rumors start flying about Swanson and potential suitors outside of Atlanta.
Unlike Freeman at first base last year, however, Atlanta may have the internal answer at shortstop already in place with Vaughn Grissom. Making his MLB debut on August 10, Grissom primarily filled in for the injured Ozzie Albies at second base. However, with Albies set to return next season, Grissom could slide over to shortstop, a position where he played twice with the Braves this year, including the regular-season finale at Miami.
Grissom posted a 121 OPS+ in 141 at-bats this season. Swanson logged a 115 OPS+ in 640 at-bats. It’s a smaller sample size, but it certainly shows that Grissom is a possibility should the Braves let Swanson walk.
And don’t forget about the other interesting subplot of the continuing Swanson-Braves dance. As pointed out in this article, Swanson’s agent is Casey Close, who formerly represented Freeman when the battle between the Dodgers and Braves was going on for his services. Close has been down this road before, and Atlanta wasn’t the victor in that battle.
However, there are signs pointing to Swanson and the Braves being able to come to an agreement as well. In early October, Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos told Dukes & Bell on 92.9 The Game in Atlanta that, from the field to the clubhouse, Swanson’s impact can be felt every day by the franchise.
"“The bottom line is, he’s real important,” Anthopoulos said. “He plays a premium position, and he’s important. He’s important. Especially for me this past year, he’s always been important but he stepped up – I’m not even talking on the field, I’m talking even in the clubhouse – he stepped up more this year than anybody would have expected. He’s taken a lot on. …“I think Vaughn (Grissom) nailed it, he called him the sheriff. In a good way. He’s a glue guy, and he’s really become a glue guy and he’s come into that. You put yourself in the GM’s chair, you don’t want to lose a glue guy, but – there’s got to be a but – it’s not that easy. That being said, we want him. We need him. Giving you anything beyond that is impossible at this point. But you guys see it day in and day out, what he’s doing, the importance he has to this team, it’s huge.”"
The Braves have already locked up a solid core for the future. Now, after a sudden exit from the postseason, the focus turns to Swanson and the pivotal decision on if he is a part of that future or the team’s past.