As the Atlanta Braves watch the 2022 World Series unfold without them, they're planning to regroup and reload in the offseason. Atlanta won 101 games during the regular season but was ousted in the divisional round by the eventual NL champion Philadelphia Phillies.
High on the Braves' to-do list is working out a new deal with All-Star shortstop Dansby Swanson. The 28-year-old was an integral part of last year's championship team, and he returned on a one-year, $10 million deal following arbitration.
Now an impending free agent, Swanson will hit the open market five days after the World Series ends if Atlanta doesn't first reach an extension.
Atlanta wants Swanson back, and according to Jon Heyman of the New York Post, there is mutual interest, and the team has made an opening offer:
"The Braves made an opening offer in-season to star shortstop Dansby Swanson, and sources suggested it was in the $100 million ballpark. The friend thought Swanson, a Georgia product, preferred to stay in Atlanta. That’s probably just a start, but it sounded like there’s work to do. (Our expert’s pick was 75 percent higher)."
The Braves' interest in locking up Swanson is logical. He's young, plays a vital position and is coming off arguably his best season in the majors. In his inaugural All-Star campaign, Swanson batted .277 with 25 home runs and 96 RBI. He also received his first Gold Glove Award.
Fortunately, it sounds like the Braves have a good chance of retaining Swanson in the offseason. Until he puts pen to paper, however, there remains a chance that they could lose him.
This is why Atlanta should, and reportedly does, have a backup plan in place. That plan appears to involve Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Trea Turner.
There has been speculation that Turner would prefer to play on the East Coast, and according to Heyman, Turner is on Atlanta's radar:
"As for Turner, the latest rumor has the Braves as a possible fit if they fail to keep the Atlanta product Swanson (they also like Correa). The Cardinals, Phillies and Red Sox are among other potential spots closer to his supposed geographic preference (he’s from Lake Worth, Fla.; his wife New Jersey)."
Heyman also mentioned Minnesota Twins shortstop Carlos Correa, who plans to opt out. Turner, though, would seem to be the most likely target, if he is indeed looking to play out East.
The Athletic's Fabian Ardaya reported last month that the Dodgers and Turner did not engage in extension talks during the season.
Dodgers informed Turner shortly before the start of the year they
wouldn’t make him a formal offer, and there haven’t been any discussions
between the two sides about an extension since," Ardaya wrote.
The 29-year-old is coming off of back-to-back All-Star campaigns and was the NL batting champion and stolen-base leader in 2021. This past season, he hit .298 with 21 home runs and 100 RBI to go with 27 stolen bases.
Like Swanson, Turner has World Series experience. He's also seasoned against National League pitchers, having played for the Washington Nationals before joining L.A. in 2021.
In short, Turner is a similarly young and top-end player who would seamlessly replace Swanson as a long-term building block in Atlanta. Correa—who is 28 years old and also a former champion and two-time All-Star—is a wonderful Plan C.
This is a good offseason to be in the shortstop market, and it provides the Braves with quality alternatives at the position. While Atlanta and its fans would probably prefer to just keep the home-grown Swanson in the fold, losing him won't necessarily end in disaster.
To avoid shortstop becoming a weakness, however, the Braves must be prepared to pivot when and if extension talks with Swanson hit a snag. While there are alternatives, they won't remain available for long.