ATLANTA — As Braves president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos met with media members at the General Managers Meetings on Wednesday, he was asked how Dansby Swanson’s situation might be different than the one Freddie Freeman experienced last year.
“I think any time you have a great player who is a free agent, those guys are hard to sign because they earned it right,” Anthopoulos said. “They put themselves in a really good position with great play. So you’re happy as a club because they’re a big part of winning.”
Like Freeman last year, Swanson has entered the free-agent market without having talked contract with the Braves over the past few months. The Atlanta resident has made it clear he would like to continue playing for his hometown team. But for now, he doesn’t know where he’ll be playing next year.
Swanson significantly enhanced his value as he ranked 11th among all MLB players and second among shortstops with a 6.4 fWAR this year. He has hit at least 25 homers each of the past two years and he ranked second among MLB players and first among shortstops with 21 outs above average this year.
With his success, Swanson has put himself in position for a $100 million-plus contract, which could pay him $20 million a year over the next five or six seasons.
“He’s become an amazing player,” Anthopoulos said. “And in my mind, he’s arguably the best defensive shortstop in the game with the work he has done.”
Anthopoulos also had a great appreciation for Freeman’s talents. So while he remains highly complimentary and appreciative of Swanson, it’s still too early to know whether the shortstop will be back in Atlanta to continue his role as the Braves ‘team leader.
While it seems more likely the Braves would go for an external option if Swanson were to exit, Anthopoulos pointed out Orlando Arcia was the Brewers’ everyday shortstop just a few years ago. He also said there may reach a point when Vaughn Grissom might be deemed ready to be an everyday shortstop at the big league level.
Grissom plans to spend time this winter working out with Braves third-base coach Ron Washington, who has long been considered one of the game’s top infield instructors.