Cubs end contract with Dansby Swanson

The Cubs are “very close” to a deal with the shortstop dansby swansonand they are expected to finalize the deal shortly, reports NBC Sports Chicago’s David Kaplan (via Twitter). The contract is for seven years and $177 million that includes a full no-trade clause, according to Russell Dorsey of Bally Sports (Twitter link). Swanson is represented by Excel Sports Management.

It is the second largest free agent deal in Cubs history, behind only jason heywardThe eight-year, $184 million deal from the 2015-16 offseason. After the Cubs spent the past two seasons cutting payroll and largely moving into rebuilding mode, it’s safe to say the franchise firmly plans to compete again, given the signings of Swanson, jameson taillonY cody bellinger this low season, as well as the seiya suzuki Y marcus stroman deals last winter.

Rumors had swirled since the summer that the Cubs were planning to sign one of the “big four” shortstops for the 2022-23 offseason: Swanson, Carlos Correa, Trea Turnereither Xander Bogarts. some reports even suggested that Chicago could sign two of the shortstops, with a view to moving one player to another position (à la Rangers ink both corey seager Y marcus semien last winter). Initial reports indicated that Correa and Bogaerts were the top options of the Cubs’ group, but during the Winter Meetings, Swanson began to emerge as “perhaps their most realistic target at shortstop,” in the words of Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.

As it turned out, the big four shortstops ended up switching teams, with Swanson being the last to get his next contract. Turner signed with the Phillies, Bogaerts with the Padres, Correa with the Giants, and now Swanson will travel to Wrigleyville to join the third different organization of his professional career. Drafted first overall by the Diamondbacks in 2015, Swanson’s Arizona was limited to 22 A-ball games as he was optioned to the Braves that offseason as part of a successful five-player trade.

Trade became infamous for Arizona fans, like shelby miller (the main piece aimed at the D’Backs) struggled immediately with his new team, while the Georgia-born Swanson flourished with his hometown Braves. Success didn’t come immediately for Swanson, who hit just .243/.314/.369 in his first 1,229 major league plate appearances between 2016 and 2018. However, he gradually became more productive at the plate, culminating in a 2022 season in which he hit .277/.329/.447 with 25 home runs over 696 PA, which translates to a 116 wRC+.

Swanson also hit 27 home runs in 2021, bringing solid power from the shortstop position. It could be that Swanson is still entering his prime as a hitter as he enters his age-29 season, making him an even more intriguing addition as an all-around player. Swanson is also an excellent baserunner and has a very strong defensive résumé that included a Gold Glove last season. The above-average starts metric rates Swanson at a total of +38 over the past five seasons, and while his defensive runs saved (+18) and UZR/150 (+0.4) numbers are a bit more inconsistent, Swanson he is certainly an above average player. fielder in a key defensive position.

The Cubs already had a good defensive shortstop in Nico Hoernerof course, and yet Hoerner Versatility allowed Chicago to explore multiple options around the diamond. With Swanson taking over the shortstop job and Bellinger also signed primarily as the everyday center fielder, it looks like Hoerner will spend most of his time at second base. Between Hoerner and Swanson, the Cubs now have one of the best defensive middle infields in baseball, which will be particularly important in 2023 given new rules limiting defensive changes.

Between Swanson, Bellinger, Taillon and brad boxberger, Chicago has spent just over $265 million in guaranteed free agent deals this offseason. even with a projected With $181.1 million in payroll for 2023 and a luxury tax number (which is based on average annual values) of just over $203.1 million, it seems possible that the Cubs and president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer They’re not finished yet.

The Cubs’ Opening Day payroll in 2019 passed the $203 million mark, so Hoyer could have at least another $22 million to spend if that previous record total represents the upper limit of ownership. Given that the Cubs crossed the luxury tax threshold in 2016, 2019 and 2020, it could be that the property could even greenlight more spending at least up to the current tax line of $233 million. “smart spending” has been one of Hoyer’s main descriptions of the Cubs’ spending strategies over the past two winters, and club president Tom Ricketts said at the start of the offseason that the front office would have “the necessary resources available to substantially supplement our current list.”

Swanson’s signing marks the first time in two offseasons that the Cubs have signed a free agent who turned down a qualifying offer. This means Chicago will have to give up $500K in international spending money and lose their second-highest pick in the 2023 draft. While losing a draft pick (currently 49th overall) is no small matter, the Cubs are too. will get an additional selection from willson contreras he turned down his QO and signed with the Cardinals. This will give Chicago a compensatory pick that will sit between Competitive Balance Round B and the start of the third round, thus ranking roughly 70th overall.

Atlanta’s compensatory pick will also fall alongside Chicago’s pick at 70th overall. That draft pick will represent the latter part of Swanson’s tenure with the Braves, a highly successful run overall highlighted by the 2021 World Series championship. of the team. Since the Braves captured that title, the club has said goodbye to both Swanson and freddy freeman in free agency, a scenario that would have been unlikely 13 months ago, given that both seemed pivotal.

However, the president of baseball operations, Alex Anthopoulos, has spent much of that time building a new base. The Braves have been very aggressive in securing several young players for contract extensions, and they also traded separate trades with the A’s to bring in two more star players in matt olson (essentially Freeman’s replacement at first base) and new catcher sean murphy. This left less attention on Swanson, as Atlanta reportedly made him an offer close to six years, $100 million before the offseason began, and since then, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman he wrote that the two sides “have not had any legitimate negotiations.”

The Braves reportedly had reservations about committing the kind of high average annual value it would have taken to land Swanson, as the $25,286 AAV in his deal with the Cubs would have easily been the highest on the payroll. Atlanta (austin riley$21.2MM is the current leader). While time will tell if the Braves made the right decision in moving on from Swanson, it’s hard to accuse the club of being tightfisted, given that they’re already on track for a team-record payroll of $196.5MM and near the tax threshold of luxury for the first time.

Atlanta might also feel like it has another young star ready to take the reins at shortstop, as vaughn grisson (who played his first 41 MLB games in 2022) now looks like the best option at the job. orlando arcia is available as a veteran backup and Anthopoulos can never be ruled out of another headline-grabbing move for another shortstop, but it seems the Braves are hoping Grissom can become the ultimate homegrown prospect to make an immediate impact at the big league level. . . Grissom has already hit .291/.353/.440 in the first 156 plate appearances of his career.

Looking at both the shortstop market and the huge free agent market, Swanson is the latest player to cash during what has been something of a free-for-all this winter. MLBTR projected Swanson to a seven-year, $154 million deal, so the prediction was at least closer to expectations than Bogaerts’ 11-year, $280 million deal with San Diego, Correa’s 13-year, $350 million deal with San Francisco, or even the 11-year, $300 million contract Turner received from the Phillies. While Swanson was generally expected to receive the smallest contract (relatively speaking) of the “big four” shortstops, the average annual values ​​of the four players ended up in the $2 million range, as deals at more long-term agreements signed by Bogaerts, Correa and Turner helped reduce the AAV and the subsequent impact of the luxury tax.

elvis andros Y Jose Iglesias He won’t dominate anywhere near those kinds of numbers, but the two veteran infielders are now the best shortstop options left on the open market. For other teams (like the Red Sox, Twins, Dodgers, and perhaps the Diamondbacks and Angels) looking for help at shortstop and were at least on the periphery of “big four” markets, Andrus or Iglesias could get some looks. , or any team in need could explore the trading market.

Photo courtesy of USA Today sports footage

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