The busiest junctures of the MLB offseason have come and gone, with the Los Angeles Dodgers hardly participating in the action. Not even any trades! It feels wildly uncharacteristic of them, but perhaps there’s a more drawn out plan being executed behind the scenes.
Per recent reports following the Winter Meetings, free agent shortstop Dansby Swanson has emerged as a “possibility” for the Dodgers. The connection isn’t anything groundbreaking — the Dodgers technically need a shortstop and Swanson was previously linked to LA over the last few months.
This time around, though, some fans seems to be dismissing the potential match because of the Dodgers’ lack of movement thus far. But can’t we assume that was actually part of what they were trying to do?
LA let the shortstop market settle with Trea Turner signing with the Phillies for $300 million and Xander Bogaerts signing with the Padres for $280 million. Next up is Carlos Correa, who should eclipse those numbers due to his age and championship pedigree.
But what about Swanson? He was always going to be the cheapest option out of these four. His defense is world class, but he’s the weakest offensively, which won’t help his case. Since the Dodgers aren’t exactly starved for offense, might they find it valuable to acquire a top shortstop at a mid-tier price, steal a star player from a rival, and reunite with him with former pal Freddie Freeman?
The Dodgers might actually be circling the Dansby Swanson waters for good reason
There have been very loose projections of Swanson getting something in the ballpark of an eight-year, ~$200 million contract. The length of such a deal might actually be of interest to the Dodgers because that’d take the 28-year-old through his age-36 season, unlike the previous ones that will take Turner and Bogaerts through age-40. Whatever deal Correa gets should take him close to there, too.
The Dodgers never pounce top-of-market. You saw them play the long game with Freeman last offseason. Since Andrew Friedman’s arrival, the Dodgers have spent like a behemoth, but they’ve rarely gotten ripped off. And they bide their time, because they know they’re a premier destination and will theoretically be just fine without reeling in the highest-profile free agents.
Another thing to note about Swanson is that he’s a late bloomer. He might not have the extensive body of work on offense that the other shortstops do, but he just logged his first All-Star/Gold Glove season and discovered his power stroke in 2021. The output has been considerable.
- Swanson’s first 445 games – 207 runs scored, 81 doubles, 40 HR, 192 RBI, 26 stolen bases
- Swanson’s last 382 games – 226 runs scored, 80 doubles, 62 HR, 219 RBI, 32 stolen bases
LA could be more likely to get the best years out of Swanson than any of the other shortstop options, all of whom have arguably peaked already.
The Dodgers value versatility over almost anything else, so making Gavin Lux the full-time shortstop would affect how manager Dave Roberts can craft his lineup cards. Additionally, the jury’s still largely out on Lux, and it’d be a hard sell to the fan base to have him replace the departures of Corey Seager and Trea Turner in back to back years.
With no top shortstop prospects in the farm system at the moment, this could be the Dodgers’ best large expenditure this offseason. They’d be getting a durable Gold Glover (perhaps the best defender at this very moment) with a budding offensive profile. And they’d be weakening the Braves in the process.
Trevor Bauer’s appeal better speed up for the sake of clarity here, if that’s what the Dodgers are waiting on.