The Atlanta Braves are going to arbitration with five players. Three are candidates for an extension, and one of them should get an extension now.
Alan wrote in detail about the arbitration hearings facing the Atlanta Braves in the next couple of months. Max Fried and Austin Riley’s final salary creates a baseline for future arbitration years; for Dansby Swanson, the next contract is either an extension or a free agent deal.
Swanson may reach free agency and then sign back in Atlanta, but statistically, those signing are rare, and we saw what happened this offseason.
Dansby’s been a polarizing figure since John Coppolella rushed him to the majors at least a year too soon. Selected one-one in the draft after leading Vanderbilt to the College World Series, fans placed unrealistic expectations on him from the start.
Rough beginning in Atlanta
The Atlanta Braves PR department made things worse by putting the hometown boy on every billboard, in every advertising campaign, and out front of every event, instead of allowing him to settle into his new role without all of that unnecessary pressure.
Like many rookies, pitchers had little idea how to pitch to Swanson in 2016, and he finished the year with reasonable numbers for a rookie, but 2017 was a rough year.
Although he walked at better than league average and struck out at league average, he struggled to a final line of .232/.312/.324/.646 with little power. However, there were signs he would improve.
With RISP, Swanson batted .391/.424/.427/.851, and in high-leverage situations, he was better, batting .341/.442/.432/.884, with 132 wRC+ and a .381 wOBA.
He also hit line drives at a 23% clip and swung and missed at only a 9% rate, and throughout the year, his glove was steady and dependable.
It wasn’t until 2018 that Swanson got his feet underneath him and became a more consistent player