Can the Cubs take Dansby Swanson away from the Braves?
That would be a huge step forward for Jed Hoyer and the rest of Tom Ricketts' front office, which has been in retreat mode since declining to extend Joe Maddon's contract after missing the playoffs in 2019.
The Cubs have been widely linked to the pursuit of the big four shortstops. But it is one thing to pursue players like Carlos Correa, Trea Turner, Xander Bogaerts and Swanson, and another thing to sign them, especially given the quantity — and quality — of competition in the pursuit.
The New York Post's Jon Heyman does not view the Cubs as one of the top options for Correa, Turner or Bogaerts but ranks the Cubs as a favorite to sign Swanson, with the Braves given a decent chance to retain him.
Swanson helped the Braves beat Houston in the 2021 World Series, homering twice. He has hit 54 regular-season and postseason home runs the last two seasons while playing strong defense. He earned a Gold Glove this season, with his defense helping push his WAR to a career-high 5.7.
The Braves would love to keep him but already have a projected payroll of $191.4 million, per Cots Contract, which exceeds their record Opening Day payroll of $177.8 million last season. They prioritized third baseman Austin Riley ahead of Swanson, signing him to a 10-year, $212-million extension last season. Riley's salary jumps from $3.95 million to $15 million in 2023, which complicates the situation with Swanson.
Heyman has reported the Braves' best offer to Swanson has been in a $100 million package, with Swanson reportedly seeking $140 million in a counter offer. MLB Trade Rumors predicts Swanson's eventual deal will come in at about $22 million per year for seven years.
The Cubs should have no problem guaranteeing $154 million, as Cots Contracts lists their projected payroll at $124.3 million currently, with only $50.01 million on the books for 2024 and just $19 million each in '25 and '26.
Swanson, who is heading into his age-29 season, would join the 25-year-old Nico Hoerner to give the Cubs one of the majors' best middle-infield combinations. Hoerner, like Swanson, is coming off a career year. He hit 10 home runs and stole 20 bases while being worth 11 Defensive Runs Saved at shortstop, per Fangraphs. Hoerner has indicated a willingness to move to second base, where he sometimes played alongside Javier Baez.
The Cubs might want to move fast to close a deal with Swanson, as his suitors could pick up. He could be in demand by teams missing out on Correa, Turner and Bogaerts, driving up his price tag. The Twins and Red Sox are reported to be making serious attempts to retain Correa and Bogaerts, respectively, with the Phillies, Dodgers and Giants among those prepared to spend heavily for an impact shortstop.
The Cubs made two significant free agent signings a year ago, adding Japanese outfielder Seiya Suzuki (five years, $85 million) and right-hander Marcus Stroman (three years, $71 million). But signing Swanson would send a much louder signal about their intentions to seriously compete against St. Louis in the NL Central.
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