So far, so good with Dansby Swanson and the Cubs. The star shortstop is proving Chicago right for making a major investment in his future.
Yes, Alex Anthopoulos saved a lot of money by letting Dansby Swanson walk. However, Swanson looks like a legitimate star with the Cubs, and that could make Braves fans sweat in the years to come.
Of course, that statement comes with a major if — Swanson has to continue his current pace over the course of several seasons. That’s not easy.
Swanson is third among all shortstops in fWAR, which measures batting runs, base-running runs, fielding runs, positional adjustment, league adjustment and replacement runs all divided by runs per win. He’s also first in the National League which, of course, the Braves reside in.
Swanson was signed to a seven-year, $177 million contract this winter. At the time, one NL executive called it the best value deal Chicago made this past offseason.
Should the Atlanta Braves regret letting Dansby Swanson walk?
There’s a difference between Swanson proving Alex Anthopoulos wrong, and whether the Braves should actually regret letting him walk. In part, this is because of the corresponding decisions Anthopoulos made, such as extending Spencer Strider, and trading for Sean Murphy, who has also been excellent in Atlanta.
Anthopoulos only has so much money to work with from Liberty Media, and had he signed Swanson, there’s a very good chance Murphy would be in St. Louis or elsewhere. So, no, the Braves shouldn’t regret letting Swanson walk. They are a better team because of it, especially considering those decisions. Anthopoulos is among the best executives in the sport because he always has a backup plan, and a long-term vision. Swanson wasn’t in that vision.
Did the Cubs make the right call to sign Dansby Swanson?
The answer to this question is undoubtedly yes. Swanson is a centerpiece of Chicago’s core, and it was a bold decision to sign him long term despite his limited success. Dansby was an All-Star in 2022, and he likely will be in 2023 — perhaps even starting at shortstop for the National League — given his statistics and the Cubs rather large fanbase.
What Swanson has done so far is proven the Cubs right, and Anthopoulos wrong for his initial valuation, which wasn’t all that high. Swanson could have been extended long ago, but instead Atlanta bet on him coming back down to earth, or perhaps playing more like his 2016-21 valuation, which was far lower than the $177 million Chicago eventually gave him.
Baseball is a complicated business. Anthopoulos made the wrong bet, and Chicago (at least so far) made the right call.
Two things can be true at the same time.