- Tim Burke
Red Sox Targets: Dansby Swanson
Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom promised the Red Sox would be a better team in 2023 than last year. On December 12, 2022, the roster for 2023 does not look like an improved one because it is an incomplete picture. The Boston Red Sox still have 40 million to spend before hitting the luxury tax threshold, and if they don't go past it, they'll go as close as they can to it. The Red Sox can make plenty of moves in Free Agency and the yet-defined trade market. The Red Sox will make several moves between now and Opening day to improve this roster.
With the loss of Xander Bogaerts and Trevor Story's arm, the Red Sox are likely in the market for a new shortstop. According to Atlanta Braves beat writer Mark Bowman, the Red Sox are one of the teams interested in Dansby Swanson. Swanson is not as talented as the other star shortstops in the Free Agent class, but he is a very good ball player. He is not the offensive force that Xander is, but he is no slouch at the plate. The 28-year-old Swanson had a career year at the plate, hitting .277 with 25 home runs and a .776 OPS in 2022. In recent years, he has developed solid power. To my surprise, Dansby Swanson has hit more home runs than Trea Turner, Carlos Correa, and Xander Bogaerts since the start of 2020, with 62. His home park, Truist Field in Atlanta, is not the most hitter-friendly park in the world, which has hurt Swanson's production at the plate. The former First Overall Pick makes a lot of hard contact, as he is the only Shortstop with a barrel rate of at least ten percent in each of the last four seasons. As a Right Handed hitter, Swanson's swing and strong barrel rate would play well at Fenway Park with the Green Monster out in left field. Boston also needs a right-handed bat. Six of the nine projected starting position players hit left-handed, so the Red Sox acquiring a right-handed bat is imminent.
Another noteworthy bit about Swanson is his leadership skills. Like Bogaerts with the Red Sox, Dansby Swanson is viewed as the captain in the Braves clubhouse. It's nearly impossible to replace a player with Bogaerts's leadership, but Dansby Swanson has been a strong leader for a successful Atlanta Braves team. Not many players can fill a team's leadership role, but Dansby Swanson will wherever he signs.
A middle infield with Swanson and Story would be a blast to watch. Both players play great defense, possess speed and power, and have excellent baseball IQs.
My main concern with a Swanson deal is the term. It will likely be a 6-8 year deal. Red Sox top prospect Marcelo Mayer will likely be ready in 2-4 years. The 20-year-old Shortstop is believed to be the future of the franchise. With Story signed through at least 2027 and Devers hopefully still operating at third base, the infield may be overcrowded when Mayer arrives. With that in mind, The Red Sox may not want to give Swanson the contract term that other teams will. I don't believe the Red Sox will sign Swanson. The money, term, and qualifying offer attached to him are enough for the Red Sox to steer clear. But if they are interested, the reported six years and 160 million offer the Red Sox offered Bogaerts should be enough to get a deal with Swanson done. So he is certainly attainable if they are truly interested, which I hope they are.
Swanson has been one of my favorite players since his days at Vanderbilt. He brings so much to the table. In my opinion, Swanson's defense at Short is the best in baseball. His 21 Outs Above Average were second among all position players, and he was rewarded with his first Gold Glove in 2022. His leadership abilities are second to none, and he is a much better hitter than he gets credit for. He is not the superstar Xander Bogaerts is but anyone who doesn't want Dansby Swanson on their team doesn't know baseball. Adding him to the lineup will improve the Red Sox in 2023 and beyond.