Dansby Swanson agrees to a seven-year contract with the Cubs, and Braves’ tenure expires
Swanson has agreed to a seven-year, $177 contract with the Chicago Cubs, a person familiar with the situation confirmed by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The deal, which has an average annual value of about $25.3 million, includes a no-trade clause.
And for the first time in his career, Swanson, a Marietta High School graduate who has been shortstop for the Braves since his 2016 debut, will wear another uniform. The club will not enter its spring training facility in Northport, Florida. He will not wear a hat with an “A” on it. You won’t see him at shortstop or in the batter’s box for the Braves.
Instead, the Braves will move on to another shortstop – be it Vaughn Grissom, Orlando Arcia or an outsider – as they continue to pursue their goals. On the other hand, Swanson will be part of the Cubs attempt to rebuild, an offseason trophy for this organization, and a potential beacon of hope for fans at Wrigley Field.
For the second time in as many years, the Braves will advance without a franchise icon, and Freddie Freeman and Swanson — who have been as synonymous with the Braves as anyone from the past decade — have left Atlanta. No doubt fans (some more than others) will feel the sting, even if they understand this is a business. Chief of Baseball Operations Alex Anthopoulos built a winner here, but some fans may be hurt by this for a while.
Swanson and Braves have both publicly stated their desire to continue their relationship. Swanson is from metro Atlanta, someone who helped lead Braves culture the way Freeman did. The Braves valued him as a player and leader.
“He’s become a great player,” Anthopoulos said in general manager meetings in November, also calling Swanson “the best defensive shortstop in the game.”
In an interview with AJC in August, Swanson said, “I’m an Atlanta kid. This is my home. This will always be my home. After I’m done playing Mallory (Pugh, now his wife) and I’ll be in Atlanta, our kids will be raised in Atlanta, too. This is home,” And (the brave) know it. We’ll just see where things go.”
Based on everything, Swanson seemed destined to continue his career as one of the most popular athletes in Atlanta. But it seemed like the Braves weren’t ready to step out of their comfort zone, and Swanson didn’t want to take any less money.
During the second half of the season, the Braves and Swanson camp discussed the possibility of a contract extension. According to a person familiar with the situation, The Braves offered Swanson six years and $100 million in that time. Swanson’s team responded with six years and $140 million.
The brave rarely overpay. Anthopoulos is adept at understanding his comfort level with something as it relates to his short- and long-term vision for his club. He’ll take risks, but he won’t do something he feels he can’t do.
In 2022, Anthopoulos has awarded contract extensions to Matt Olson, Austin Riley, Michael Harris and Spencer Stryder. These joined extensions previously handed to Ronald Acuña and Uzi Alpes. No one on the Braves roster will earn more than $22 million in a single season on their current deal. The Braves would have crossed the luxury tax threshold if they had re-signed Swanson, though they said they were willing to do so, accepting penalties, for the right player and deal.
Swanson, who never played for another team, played 827 games over seven seasons in Atlanta. He has made one All-Star appearance and won one Gold Glove, both of which he earned last season. He developed into one of the best shortstops in the game, as evidenced by the deal Chicago offered him. Swanson, who was part of a group of four shortstops on the market this winter, was the last to stand until signing with the Cubs.
When asked about Swanson’s future after the Phillies eliminated the Braves from the postseason in October, Braves manager Brian Snitker said, “I love this guy, just what he brings, consistency. I’ve never seen a guy want to win more than him.” And as I say, I hope to meet him again….but I can’t say enough good things about this kid and his makeup and his drive and his determination and the person he is.I think his world.I have so much respect for him,how he does it.It’s amazing too, Because I’ve seen the first day he came in here so far and how he’s grown and matured and the player he’s become.”
On the same day, third baseman Austin Riley said, “He’s a real guy. He loves baseball, he wants to win more than anyone else, and the important thing is he’s very selfless. He wants the best for everyone.”
Swanson’s teammates and coaches say he has the “It” factor. They can be sports clichés, but they often swear by it. With Freeman gone, Swanson became the club’s undisputed Braves leader. In this way, Saturday News is a hit.
During his career, Swanson hits . 25 with a . 738 OPS. He collected 102 home runs and 411 RBIs. He is more known for his defense and has great instincts. In “late and close” game situations—a category used by baseball reference to give player stats in clutch moments—Swanson posted a .777 OPS. With two outs and two runners in scoring position, he has a .802 OPS.
It might be fair to say that Swanson has benefited from higher free agent rates this winter. Fans and analysts will debate whether the Braves were smart to pass on what the Cubs paid him. However, as Anthopoulos said publicly this winter, Swanson earned the right to test the open market.
With the exception of an intense 2020 season, Swanson has never finished a full season with an OPS higher than .776. He struck out 27 homers in 2021 and 25 more this past season, showing his power, but he doesn’t feature at bat many of the game’s best shortstops. But he is often great in the big positions, plays incredible defence, influences games with his speed which is a positive for any club.
Swanson may be the type of player who can help the Cubs start to speed up their attempt to rebuild. He seems to have improved each season, and that could continue as he progresses through his peak period.
But the Braves never seemed ready to come close to what the Cubs offered Swanson, whose wife plays for the US Women’s National Soccer Team and the National Women’s Soccer League’s Chicago Red Stars.
The question now: Where do the brave go from here?
Swanson leaves a huge void on his 101-win team. The Braves have won five consecutive National League East titles, and their decision on their late start will be one factor in whether they can win a sixth.
Talented Grissom. The Braves believe his bat is real, and teacher Ron Washington believes in his defense. But he didn’t play much baseball at the major league level. Arcia is a short game from the big leagues. The free agent market may not reach anyone better than Grissom or Arcia. The Braves can look to swing trade for a short stop.
Swanson isn’t one of the superstars in the game, but he’s a proven top player with talent and experience. It will not be easy to replace it.
About 20 minutes into the Braves’ season finale in Philadelphia, Swanson walked into the clubhouse, sweat on his face, head down, tears in his eyes. In that moment, deal with the feelings of losing the game, even if everyone seems focused on something else.
“It’s the last thing on my mind right now,” Swanson said of his future.
As it turns out, this will be the last time he ever wears the Braves costume. Another franchise icon is gone, and both sides are left to move on without the other.
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