Remember when I wrote “maybe I’m a glutton for punishment” while predicting Dansby Swanson’s free agent experience would be different than the one Freddie Freeman encountered last year? I’m starting to think there are no maybes about it.
A month ago, I thought Swanson would remain in Atlanta. While this remains a possibility, it certainly doesn’t feel like a probability.
Bothered by the absence of communication since the end of the season, Swanson called Braves president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos to get a feel for where things stand. But these two parties haven’t had any legit negotiations since the offseason began.
The Braves have offered Swanson a six-year deal with an average annual value between $16 million and $17 million. Swanson could end up getting six-year or seven-year offers with an AAV between $22 million to $25 million from other clubs, especially after Trea Turner reportedly landed an 11-year, $300 million deal ($27.3 million AAV) with the Phillies and Xander Bogaerts got a reported $280 million over 11 years ($25.5 million AAV) from the Padres.
It’s always been assumed Swanson would need to leave some money on the table to stay in Atlanta. But if that figure is too significant, then it certainly won’t be surprising to see the Braves lose a fan favorite for a second straight year.
Who would replace Swanson? Trade options seem limited, but a free agent option could be Elvis Andrus, who was Atlanta’s top prospect before Jason Heyward and Freeman even joined the organization as wide-eyed teenagers.
If the Braves were to sign the defensive-minded Andrus, it would increase the need to find a big bat to play left field.
Of course, if Swanson ends up back in Atlanta, there would still be a need to find a left fielder. A reunion with Adam Duvall might work. A one-year deal for Michael Conforto might also be attractive. The fortunate thing is the Braves are going into this not worried about surpassing the Competitive Balance Tax’s first threshold.