The Atlanta Braves and Dansby Swanson: Ditch or Dance?
Should the Atlanta Braves re-sign Dansby Swanson?
As the Atlanta Braves stare down the final month of regular season play, it’s difficult to ignore Dansby Swanson’s impending free agency. After several years of uneven play, Swanson fully delivered on his substantial potential to become one of the best shortstops in the MLB.
After a dreadful stretch to open the year (Swanson hit .223 through May 16), the six-year veteran authored a massive rebound. He finished May batting .267, then romped through June with a .330 average and a .953 OPS.
Exiting the midweek series against the Rockies, Swanson was hitting .287 with 17 bombs and 16 steals. His 4.7 WAR was second among NL shortstops behind only the Mets $341 million man, Francisco Lindor.
With such impressive numbers, it’s no surprise that Lieutenant Dans is in line to command a nice contract this offseason. Last week, a report came out that the Bravos opened talks with Swanson’s representatives regarding a new deal.
There is little doubt that Swanson will be paid. However, should the Braves be the ones to write the check?
Should the Braves let Swanson walk? Based on Heyman’s report, they prefer a reunion. But if negotiations stall, there are a couple of reasons the club might move on from the hometown favorite.
1. Track Record
When Swanson first joined the big club, he wasted no time demonstrating the hit tool and defense that caused Arizona to select him 1-1 in the draft. In 38 games, he hit .302 with 11 extra-base hits. The rookie’s .803 OPS led Braves Country to believe Swanson was their next star.
Yet over the next three seasons, Swanson failed to replicate his early success. In 407 games, he batted .240 with a .694 OPS.
He improved dramatically during the 60-game COVID season, hitting .274 with a .809 OPS. Swanson was a key cog of the juggernaut offense that took the Dodgers to the brink in the NLCS.
But last year, his averages decreased across the board. He finished with a .248 average and .760 OPS. However, Swanson also set a career-high (and Braves shortstop record) with 27 long balls.
Overall, only the 60-game COVID season compares to the numbers Swanson is posting this year. Though his power and sublime defense made Swanson a quality starting shortstop last season, it fades in comparison to the offensive force he is this season.
Did Swanson endure a particularly slow development? Or is his career year a flash in pan? The Braves need to figure it out. After all, there is a more colorful factor requiring their attention.