Atlanta Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson. (Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports)
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The Atlanta Braves really need to hold onto Dansby Swanson in free agency because they don’t appear to have any other great options at shortstop.
The free agency picture for the Braves at shortstop really only involves one name: Dansby Swanson.
The 28-year-old who achieved his first All-Star nod in 2022 rejected a qualifying offer from the Braves on Tuesday and is now on the open market.
That doesn’t mean Atlanta is out of the running by any stretch. In fact, they should be leading the market to keep Swanson on the payroll. According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, he’s the only realistic option the Braves have.
Braves could be Dansby Swanson or bust at shortstop in free agency
“If the Braves cannot keep Swanson, they probably will be out of the picture for Trea Turner, Carlos Correa and Xander Bogaerts, all of whom figure to be more expensive,” Rosenthal wrote.
Basically, if Swanson is out of their pay range, then the other options at the position are way out of their pay range.
The qualifying offer Swanson rejected was for $19.65 million. He’s likely to command a multi-year deal for more than $20 million per year. And the Braves should definitely give him the deal he wants.
Without Turner, Correa or Bogaerts on the table, Atlanta would have to turn to Orlando Arcia or go all-in on Vaughn Grissom at shortstop in 2023. That would mean taking a sizable step back positionally while also losing a clubhouse leader.
The Braves clearly don’t want to break the bank on anyone when it comes to free agency but paying Swanson what he’s due wouldn’t fall into that category. If they want to remain a contender, they need to retain the core of their team when the option is in front of them.