The Atlanta Braves are looking to get back to the World Series in 2023 but what free agency moves should they make, or not make, to achieve that goal?
When the Atlanta Braves came back in the NL East to take the division from the Mets heading into the playoffs, it felt like this might be a team of destiny yet again as they tried to win back-to-back World Series. Unfortunately, that was not the case. Atlanta ran into another NL East foe, the Phillies, that was turning into a buzzsaw for the postseason.
But everyone in The Battery knows that this isn’t a two-year flash in the pan. With the extensions that this team has handed out, the Braves are set up to compete for rings for the foreseeable future. Their core is in place and looks capable of winning it all in any given year.
While that might be the hard truth of the matter, it’s also true that Atlanta can’t rest on its laurels and not continue to be smart with the moves they make, particularly in free agency. And with a crucial offseason in that regard upon the club, here are some moves that the Braves need to make in addition to one big signing that they’d be wise to stay away from.
1. Braves need to make sure Dansby Swanson stays in Atlanta
The biggest topic of conversation for the Atlanta Braves this offseason is going to be what the team does in regard to free-agent shortstop Dansby Swanson.
Long considered a defense-first shortstop, Swanson has put himself in position to get a lucrative contract this offseason in a wild market at the position with the way his offense has developed. This past season, he hit for a career-high .277 with a 115 OPS+. Moreover, he’s shown more pop with 52 homers over the past two seasons, more than he had in his first five MLB seasons combined.
Just as importantly, Swanson has been a hometown leader for the Braves. Particularly with the departure of Freddie Freeman last offseason, the shortstop became the veteran pillar in the clubhouse for this team and an integral part to their success.
The big question, however, has been whether or not the Braves, a notoriously stingy team when it comes to big-ticket free agents, would be willing to pay Swanson something in the $30 million AAV range on a new contract. Some other team will, so they have to do so to even have a chance.
While that’s nothing to just hand-wave, it’s worth it given how Swanson has thrived over the past two seasons and could be entering his true prime coming into his age-29 season. It would be a bad look to lose a team leader in back-to-back offseasons on top of that, which almost makes ponying up for Dansby Swanson feel like a no-brainer place to start this offseason.