7 Teams for Dansby Swanson That Aren’t the Braves

Nov 5, 2021; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson speaks during the World Series championship rally at Truist Park. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 5, 2021; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson speaks during the World Series championship rally at Truist Park. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports /

Dansby Swanson is still a free agent. After having the best season of his career, the Braves and the SS have yet to agree to a deal. There are signs that the 28-year-old might not be returning, either. The Athletic’s David O’Brien recently said that he’s “less than optimistic” about the SS reuniting with his hometown team. But if Dansby Swanson isn’t manning shortstop for the Braves in 2023, what uniform will he be wearing? I’ve found seven possible destinations.

What teams could Dansby Swanson play for in 2023

Dansby Swanson isn’t the only high-profile SS on the free agent market. In fact, according to FanGraphs, he’s likely the fourth-best SS looking to find a team this offseason. But that doesn’t mean he’ll struggle to find a team.

In addition to being an above-average hitter, finishing the season with a 116 wRC+, Swanson also finished with the second-highest OAA in the majors. This defensive prowess aided Swanson to a career-best 6.4 fWAR. While the defense was a jump compared to his other seasons in the bigs, Swanson has been an above-average SS defensively in all but one season.

Simply, just because there are better SSs on the market doesn’t mean there aren’t suitors for Dansby outside Atlanta. I’ve divided the sections below as likely and unlikely but possible.

Likely destinations

1. Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers are losing the best SS on the market, and while writing off a reunion with Trea Turner is premature, it would not be surprising if the former National went elsewhere. Back in March, Jon Heyman reported that it’s believed that the Florida native prefers the East Coast (please Trea, go to the American League).

Turner put up a monster season in his first season in LA, hitting 28% better than league average, but actually finished with a worse fWAR than Swanson at 6.3. This is because Turner finished the season as below-average defensively.

The 30-year-old SS is projected to take home anywhere from seven to nine years with an AAV of over $30 million. If the Dodgers, who finished the season with an estimated payroll of $262 million, are looking to save, Swanson would be the perfect SS.

Not only is Swanson familiar with a certain star on the team, but he would be significantly cheaper. Swanson, despite being a year-and-a-half younger, is projected to only receive a deal of six years and have an AAV that is at least six million dollars lower.

While Turner has a better track record than Swanson, the now-former Braves SS’s offensive breakout was real if you trust the input. Believe it or not, Swanson actually underperformed by xSLG and his wOBA and xwOBA were matched at .337.

Additionally, while this was Swanson’s first full season as an above-average hitter, he underperformed his xwOBA in 2019 and 2021 by significant margins. This is something Los Angeles’ front office is surely aware of. Adding Dansby to replace Turner also might give them the opportunity to shift payroll to another position, like starting pitching.

2. Seattle Mariners

For the first time in two decades, the Seattle Mariners made the playoffs. After locking in star rookie, Julio Rodriguez for at least the next 12 years, the Mariners have made it clear that they are looking to be a threat for a while.

The team has already been active this offseason, adding Teoscar Hernandez and trading away Kyle Lewis. Adding a SS like Dansby could be their next move.

The Ms currently have a SS in J.P. Crawford, but he was brutal defensively and could be moved to 2B if a better SS presents itself. In fact, the Mariners were 22nd in SS production by fWAR, behind teams like the Oakland A’s, Detriot Tigers, and Miami Marlins.

Moving Crawford to 2B would also take care of the Mariners lack of production there, as the team finished 28th in fWAR ahead of only the White Sox and the Orioles.

Swanson would be an obvious choice for the club, as he offers top-tier defense and won’t cost as much in years or dollars as the other three high-profile free-agent SSs.

The only caveat to this is that the Mariners’ President, Jerry Dipoto, has stated that Crawford will likely open the season at short unless a good opportunity presents itself. This tells me the team isn’t willing to overpay for the position.

3. Boston Red Sox

Like Los Angeles, Boston currently has a hole at the position thanks to a high-profile free agent. Xander Bogaerts declined a $20 million player option at the beginning of the offseason. This opted out of the final three years of a potential six-year deal that he signed back in 2019.

Bogaerts leaves Boston in a similar position that Turner leaves Los Angeles. The Red Sox could reunite with their longtime SS, who has been at least 29% better than league-average with the bat since 2018, or they could look for a cheaper option.

The Aruban SS is projected to receive a contract that’s in between Turner’s and Swanson’s. The main concern for Bogaerts is whether or not he’ll stick at SS. 2022 was only the second time he posted a positive OAA. At his age, with his arm strength, teams like the Red Sox might view this past season’s work defensively as more of a mirage than an indication of the future.

Swanson could be a fit in Boston if the Red Sox move on from Bogaerts (or vice versa). ZIPS currently projects Trevor Story at SS, but similar arm strength concerns and a brutal 2021 defensively could keep Story at 2B for the future.

Dansby actually had better exit velocity metrics, along with a better xSLG than Bogaerts. While Bogaerts had better bat-to-ball skills, there’s the argument that Swanson would actually be an upgrade overall while also saving Boston money.

Unlikely but possible destinations

4. Chicago Cubs

Honestly, this one doesn’t make a lot of sense, but this was reported on, so I’ll list it here. The Cubs already have Nico Hoerner, who was a 4.0 fWAR SS with elite-level defense. They also finished the season 14 games below .500.

However, if the Cubs are truly ready to spend, moving Nico Hoerner to 2B, a position he played 468.1 innings at in his career, shouldn’t be a problem. Swanson would be a significant improvement over Nick Madrigal, who is currently slotted in at 2B. Madrigal accumulated 0.2 fWAR in 228 PAs last season, and had an abysmal 70 wRC+. If the Cubs are serious about spending this season, and if they miss out on Carlos Correa or Trea Turner, then Dansby Swanson might find himself in the iconic blue pinstripes.

5. Minnesota Twins

This is another destination I see as unlikely, but possible. While their 2022 SS, Carlos Correa, is a free agent, the Twins have made offers to retain him. If they don’t, the team also has the 2017 first-overall pick, Royce Lewis, waiting in the wings. The team also added Kyle Farmer earlier this offseason

However, if Minnesota doesn’t land Correa, don’t view Farmer as a full-time player, and if they don’t believe in Royce Lewis’ defense, something that was a concern before his season was ended by a torn ACL, Swanson becomes an obvious pick.

Despite a disappointing 2022, the Twins aren’t that far off. In a weak division, Dansby Swanson could be a key component that gets Minnesota back into the playoffs.

6. Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies have been linked to Trea Turner this offseason. However, just because Turner is an option for the Braves’ rival doesn’t mean that Swanson is. The NL champs currently have Bryson Stott, who vastly improved after June, currently at the position, but the team also has an opening at 2B if they do add a SS.

Watching Swanson head to a rival like the Phillies would be crushing, but at this point in time, I believe the Phillies are aiming higher with Turner.

7. Baltimore Orioles

For the first time in over half a decade, the Orioles might be in a position to win. They vastly overachieved, winning 83 games in 2022. Whether or not they are ready, to spend, however, is a different story.

If they do, SS is an obvious place to upgrade. The O’s finished 20th in the majors in SS production by fWAR. However, with a young exciting core, Baltimore might find that adding a veteran SS in Swanson could put them over the top.

Where does Dansby go?

If Dansby Swanson doesn’t return to Atlanta, his eventual home will likely depend on where Trea Turner, Carlos Correa, and Xander Bogaerts land. Teams bidding for free-agent SSs will likely chase the players commanding the higher AAVs and will pivot to Dansby if they lose out on the sweepstakes. Unless Swanson signs with Atlanta, I would not expect him to sign anytime soon.