One of the more surprising moves in baseball over the last 12 months was the inability/unwillingness (delete as appropriate) of the Atlanta Braves to sign their shortstop, Dansby Swanson, to a new contract.
With a Gold Glove, a World Series ring, and 800-plus games for Atlanta, the former first-overall pick looked like he would stay a Brave for life. Although, as they proved by allowing first-base legend Freddie Freeman to walk, the Braves are better at extending youngsters to below-market deals than re-signing free-agent-bound veterans.
Currently, the Atlanta Braves are a bottom-eight team at the shortstop position, whereas the Cubs, Swanson’s new team, are in the top eight.
With Atlanta allowing Swanson to walk into free agency, the 29-year-old was signed to a lucrative seven-year, $177 million deal to keep him in Chicago until 2030. Given the cost of other free-agent shortstops, the deal was ranked as the best signing of the offseason.
As well as being astute business to acquire an elite middle infielder in the prime of his career, the deal alerted the rest of the baseball world that the Cubs rebuild was definitely over, and the only way now was up.
Originally drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2015 – the year that the Cubs took Ian Happ eighth – Swanson was traded away to Atlanta within six months. The five-player trade brought starting pitcher Shelby Miller to Phoenix but is still ridiculed as the “worst in Diamondbacks history”.
This season, Swanson embarked on a new phase of his career and hit the ground running in Chicago. The All-Star, who played every single 162 game for Atlanta last season, is an on-base machine, leading all shortstops with .370 OBP this year.
“Lieutenant Dan” is an all-round superstar, a true five-tool player, who offers speed and power to go along with his elite infield defence and owns the second spot on the Cubs lineup card.
The London Series spectators are privileged to get the opportunity to see Dansby Swanson.
Featured image of Dansby Swanson by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images
The London Series 2023 will feature the first-ever NL games in Europe when the Chicago Cubs take on the St Louis Cardinals on Saturday 24 June and Sunday 25 June. Check out the Ticketmaster website with tickets starting from £59.00 – make sure you are following @Batflips_nerds for all your London Series content.