Dansby Swanson is the best remaining free agent, the only of the top four shortstops who has yet to agree to terms. Teams like the Cubs, Twins, Dodgers, Red Sox and incumbent Braves have all been tied to him, although there’s no indication he’s especially close to a deal.
Minnesota, Boston and the Dodgers each lost a star shortstop of their own to free agency, making them all natural fits to look to Swanson as a possible replacement. However, various reports have cast some doubt on each of those possible landing spots. Both Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic and Jon Heyman of the New York Post have written recently that Los Angeles is presently more on the periphery of the Swanson market. Rosenthal and Heyman each suggest L.A. might only jump into the mix if Swanson’s asking price dips into a range they find especially palatable.
That at least partially stems from luxury tax considerations, with various reports suggesting the Dodgers are eyeing the possibility of dipping below next year’s $233MM base threshold. The Dodgers have paid the tax in each of the last two seasons, setting them up for heightened penalties as repeat payors. A team can reset their payor status by dipping below the threshold for one year, and doing so next season may free L.A. up to aggressively target free agency during the 2023-24 offseason. Los Angeles is presently projected around $32MM shy of the tax marker by Roster Resource, leaving room to add Swanson without going past the threshold. However, there’s apparently some organizational concern they could find themselves on the hook for money owed to Trevor Bauer if the pitcher’s two-year suspension is overturned or reduced on appeal, which is expected to be heard in the next month.
Heyman wrote yesterday the Red Sox are “seriously considering” Swanson after watching Xander Bogaerts head to San Diego. Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom recently told the media the club was looking to add players at up-the-middle positions, but the presence of Trevor Story means they’re not locked into a shortstop pursuit. Boston reportedly offered Bogaerts, whom they’d called their top offseason priority, $162MM over six years before he landed in San Diego. Pivoting with a similar or higher proposal to Swanson would raise some eyebrows, and Jen McCaffrey of the Athletic wrote yesterday it seems unlikely Boston would make such an investment.
The Twins had been in contact with Swanson even before Carlos Correa agreed to terms with the Giants, putting themselves into the mix for a fallback option. Both Darren Wolfson of SKOR North (Twitter link) and Dan Hayes of the Athletic (on Twitter) suggest the Twins remain involved, but both reporters characterize it as more of a longshot for Swanson to actually land in Minneapolis. The Twins do still have a fair bit of payroll flexibility, even after this afternoon’s $11MM agreement with Joey Gallo.
Regardless, Swanson’s sure to find a significant deal from some team this winter. The next-best remaining free agent shortstop is Elvis Andrus, while the trade market doesn’t have many obvious solutions. Swanson is coming off an All-Star campaign, one in which he connected on 25 home runs with a .277/.329/.447 line while appearing in all 162 games for the Braves. He also secured his first career Gold Glove after rating as 15 runs above average defensively, per Statcast. At the start of the offseason, MLBTR predicted a seven-year, $154MM contract.
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