Atlanta Braves Extension Candidate: Dansby Swanson

In continuing our extension candidate series, we look at a player that has shown spurts of greatness but hasn’t broken through. Today’s Atlanta Braves Extension Candidate, Dansby Swanson.

Background on Dansby Swanson

This is a hard one because we don’t really know who Dansby Swanson is, still, and his arb years are quickly ticking off. After arriving on the scene in 2016 with a promising 145 PAs of a .302/.361/.442 line and what looked like quality defense as well, 2017 was an abysmal year. A .232/.312/.324 line and, at least according to the metrics, uninspiring defense meant that Dansby was considered a below replacement level player in his first full season. And over the next two seasons, he would battle injuries, continue to improve as a hitter, but see a declining walk rate from his bad 2017 season while having fluctuating defensive numbers. What a mess.

He’ll go into his age-26 season arbitration eligible for the first time and an unreliable past to predict his future earnings. So while he’s certainly not a great candidate for extension, I decided I still would take a crack at it anyway. By age-26, though, Atlanta is not going to be willing to commit lots of money to him, and you’d have to think that Dansby is going to begin losing confidence that a huge contract is waiting for him once he gets to free agency.

Next year, Dansby will make $3.3M. He then has two more arb years remaining. I would think that Atlanta would be willing to let him ride at least one more year after this year. Then you get into non-tender territory as he approaches his final year before free agency. But as long as he doesn’t implode, the Braves will probably keep him around until free agency.

The Contract Proposal For Dansby Swanson

There’s still tremendous talent with Dansby, and you may be willing to chalk up some of the struggles over the last couple years to injury. I have no delusions that he’ll ever become the player that Arizona thought they were getting when they spent their #1 pick on him, but he could still become a 2-2.5 WAR player starting this year. So the Braves could buy out 2 of his free agency years, and give him a 5 year, $31.3M deal. It would break down this way:

  • $3.3M in 2020 (Already agreed upon)
  • $5M in 2021
  • $7M in 2022
  • $8M in 2023 (His first free agency year)
  • $8M in 2024

If I’m Dansby, I’m taking this deal, especially the way the first three seasons have gone. If I’m the Braves, this looks sort of like the Julio Teheran deal where if he makes his floor, he’s probably worth it, but if he turns into close to the player that we think he might be, then it’s a steal.

Thoughts? If you liked this piece on Braves Extension Candidate Dansby Swanson, check out all of our Braves Extension Candidates here!

Thanks for reading!

Long live Braves Journal

28 thoughts on “Atlanta Braves Extension Candidate: Dansby Swanson”

  1. I might be in the minority (at least on here) but I like Dansby and think he is important to the grand scheme of things. He brings a high level of enthusiasm to the game and he is pretty cerebral as a ball player as it looks like he plays the game hard and the right way. He is one of those glue types of player that teammates like to play with. Losing him before the playoffs 2 years ago was a much bigger blow than many will realize. I would love to see him locked up as a smaller part of that core group moving forward.

  2. I’ve been a Dansby skeptic, but I’m a big fan of underperforming hitters entering their prime. What Swanson did before getting hurt last season makes me excited to see what his age 26-27-28 years are going to look like offensively. The big question is if there is something underlying that will continue to make it hard for him to stay healthy, or if he’s just had a run of bad luck injury wise.

    I don’t know if he needs extending though. If he stays healthy, I think he’s a good bet to stay valuable at 30, but I still think we could move Ozzie back over there if a shortstop need ever arises.

  3. It seems like it might be Josh Donaldson Day. If you’re ownership and MLB trying to change fan sentiment about the DH, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have an aging slugger making big money on your NL roster in 2021 so that the team writers can say something to the effect of, “While fans may not be huge fans of the DH, it does give the ::NL Team:: a place to put ::Aging Slugger:: as he gets older.”

  4. My extension for Dans was 1 year and $12M more but is in the same ballpark. He is precisely the type of player that improves in his late-20’s (athletic, perhaps overly so, who begins to get “old-player” skills to go with the youthful exuberance).

  5. Dansby, extend
    allow your better instincts to ascend
    follow the example of Rusty
    whose detailed research, piercing, never fusty.

  6. Do not wait. Non-tender now. $3.3 million is a huge overpay.

    That said:

    Matt and Ryan, here’s the complaint you asked for. I always aim to please.

    This morning on Hot Stove DOB defended his HOF ballot. DOB and I have a curious relationship. I thought that in his early years as Braves beat writer, he did a good job. Like Mac said, we used to like him until he turned into an anal sphincter.

    This morning, however, he spent the final portion of his interview defending his vote for Andruw. I agreed with everything he said. This does not mean I’ve gone soft on the jerk, but today he was civil and compelling in arguing that Andruw Jones was a generational talent and a slam dunk HOFer.

    The case he made was persuasive. Over a ten year period Jones won ten straight gold gloves while sporting an .850 OPS. No one was worth more to his team, combining his runs produced with runs prevented; and he hit more than 400 home runs while playing a premium defensive at a level never before attained in my lifetime.

    Think about it. I learned to love baseball from my grandfather. Together we saw DiMaggio at the end of his career, though I truly don’t remember it. I saw Mays and Mantle play as rookies, and Duke Snider was my favorite childhood player. I saw Gary Maddux cover everything not underwater. Nobody — NOBODY– played centerfield better than Andruw.

    He didn’t hit like Mays, Mantle or the Duke, and they each had longer careers. Who cares? In the field, wearing a glove, Andruw Jones was the best I ever saw. Andruw Jones should be in the Hall of Fame.

    While presenting his case, DOB related a Terry Pendleton story. TP played several years alongside Ozzie Smith and waxed poetic about his skills. Then TP told DOB that Andrelton Simmons was as good or better than Smith, with a better bat and a stronger, more accurate arm. Smith was a first ballot HOFer, if I recall correctly. DOB posed the question: is Andrelton a surefire HOFer?

    To me, the answer is yes. Andruw was the best defensive player I ever saw, until I saw Simba. Someone should bottle the water on that island.


    Now the complaint: using my kindle fire, I typed out the soapbox speech shown above, which self-garbled, then disappeared. What the hey?

    Still love you guys, but your elders aren’t as digitally adept as you whippersnappers.

  7. I like Dansby and wish only the best for him. But that contract feels a bit rich given his frankly extremely pedestrian career numbers to date. I wouldn’t mind extending him, honestly. But $30 million’s a lot to give a guy who has trouble both hitting and staying healthy. (I don’t have a problem giving him a lousy $3 million this year, though. C’mon, coop, do you really want to nontender the guy?)

    Fully agree with literally everything coop wrote above about Andruw. But as to the last — is Andrelton a surefire Hall of Famer? Possible, yes; surefire, no. His hitting fell apart again last year. I guess I’d think of it this way. He’s 30 years old, and if he has another decade of the quality of the decade just past, I’d cast my ballot for him with a song in my heart. But if he gets old — as, after all, Father Time remains undefeated — I think he’ll just have to remain the greatest defensive shortstop I ever saw and subject of the most heartbreaking trade I can remember.

  8. @coop, The commenting system is actually using the exact same system as before. Only change with it is the color, size, and font. Even the avatar thing was built in to the previous system. Any change to it since the early days is purely by WordPress upgrading their own system.

    (For clarity’s sake: for a little while a long time ago, this site switched to another commenting system called Disqus, but then switched back to what it was before and what it has been since.)

    One thing WordPress sometimes has issues with is really long comments. Those often trigger spam alerts. Perhaps this was your issue. Beyond that, make sure your Fire is up to date…particularly if you are using Chrome as the browser. If any issues continue, let me know the details and we’ll figure it out whether it’s on your device or on our side.

  9. I too wish Swanson well. He plays hard. So did I. Couldn’t hit or field, but I played hard.

    Dansby would be a nice part of a trade package.

  10. That’s frustrating, Coop. Hope it doesn’t happen again, but I have full confidence that Matt is the answer to techy probs.

    On Andruw…DOB doesn’t need to convince me. Andruw Jones was a 10 time straight Gold Glover and most would consider himto be, at least, the 2nd best defensive CFer of all-time behind while playing behind 3 HoF pitchers in the midst of the greatest division run of all-time AND he was a really good hitter.

  11. 10 – And let me just add that voters who vote for Vizquel and not for Rolen or Andruw are bonkers. Both Rolen and Andruw added more on defense than Omar did, and they put up tremendous offensive numbers as well.

  12. Here is my ranked HOF ballot

    Would absolutely get my vote if unlimited ballot:


    Borderline but just short for now:


    The rest, hard nos:


  13. It really makes the site look horrible and terrible and unreadable, Matt. Just kidding. I like the new site design. Best wishes on getting the kinks worked out.

    Sorry that happened, coop. Very frustrating.

  14. Alex, for how much and for how long would you extend Dansby, then? I feel like an extension is not worth doing unless you feel like you’re getting a discount on at least 2 free agent years.

  15. Keeping Dansby around is fine while he’s cheap. And there’s always a chance he has that breakout year — the talent is there. But when he starts getting expensive the Braves should find another shortstop, and he hasn’t been a good enough player to lock up to an extension. He’s been about a 1.5-2 WAR player, which is average to below average.

  16. Matt, the new site design is absolutely fantastic. Thanks so much for all that you’ve done.

    I like Dansby. I think he’ll have a breakout season if he stays healthy. Go Braves.
    And now, please, give JD all the money.

  17. Putter, I don’t know what to say. It’s now 7:32 and there’s still no Donaldson signing announcement. I’m appalled.

    If this isn’t convincing evidence that Liberty is shorting the Braves to increase the equity in the franchise, I don’t know what is. /sarcasm

  18. The Nats signed Thames, so does that mean that Matt Adams is available as a backup, or does Riley have that covered? Do the Braves need a LHH power bat off the bench?

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