Photo via YouTube/Fox Sports South
Atlanta Braves’ infielder Dansby Swanson is currently signed through the 2020 season for $3.15 million.
The former Vanderbilt star and No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 Major League Baseball Draft, Swanson is the latest in the Atlanta’s long line of defensive wizards at shortstop. But what he brings to the lineup from the shortstop position hasn’t been seen in Georgia since Rafael Furcal played for the hometown team.
Entering last season’s July 4 contest, Swanson had the third-highest hard-hit percentage among shortstops behind only Javier Baez and Trevor Story. But like most of his career, a setback derailed the rest of the season for him.
Swanson injured his quad and it was obviously bothering him the rest of the season. He hit 17 home runs before that day, compared to zero after. His batting average went from .274 to .197; his slugging percentage went from 0.500 to 0.245 — a drop of more than 50 percent.
When healthy, Swanson is one of the best hitters in the Atlanta lineup. The career .247 hitter has improved his average every full season he’s played in baseball’s highest level of competition. He entered Thursday’s contest against the Tampa Bay Rays, hitting .391.
His 2019 advanced analytics have his closest comps listed as: Yasiel Puig, Ramon Laureano, Hunter Dozier, and Joc Pederson.
Compare Swanson’s contract (1-year/$3.15 million remaining) to the other National League East shortstops:
Didi Gregorius, Philadelphia Phillies: 1-year/$14 million.
Miguel Rojas, Miami Marlins: 2-year/$10.25 million with 2-year team option.
Amed Rosario, New York Mets: pre-arbitration eligible.
Trea Turner, Washington Nationals: $7.45 million for 2020.
Now compare his contract to his closest shortstop comparisons across all of baseball:
Orlando Arcia, Milwaukee Brewers: $2.2 million for 2020.
Nick Ahmed, Arizona Diamondbacks: 4-year/$32.5 million.
Now preferably, the Braves would love to lock him up for below market value, but that’s not always possible. The good news for Atlanta is that general manager Alex Anthopoulos has a history of securing cornerstone pieces in team-friendly deals.
A “fair” deal, meaning both sides get what they reasonably want would be somewhere in the 6-year/$52 million range. It rewards Swanson for his production when healthy and locks him up until he’s 32 years old.
It would be a more expensive deal for the Braves if Swanson had been more consistent up to this point and produced during that time as well. But this deal shows Swanson that the Braves have faith in him moving forward, they appreciate what he’s done for the organization to this point and allows Atlanta to keep a good chunk of change to throw at upcoming free agents.