Where will Dansby Swanson and Carlos Correa land?
With the rumor mill swirling around Dansby Swanson and Carlos Correa, we look at where the last two elite-level shortstops left unsigned are likely to land
Entering the 2022 off season, there was an unreal amount of top-level players entering free agency at the same time. Among the big-ticket pitchers and outfielders, one of the most eye-catching situations was the four elite-level shortstops on offer.
Eight teams entered the off season in the hunt for a shortstop, with the Red Sox, Dodgers, Braves, and Twins providing the players that will need replacing, and the Cardinals, Cubs, Phillies, and Padres in the hunt for solidifying their lineups.
Several of those names can be scratched off the list. Philadelphia did what they set out to do and nabbed Trea Turner on an eleven-year, $300 million deal that has a full no-trade clause and is all guaranteed money.
San Diego, by contrast, swooped in at the post and poached Xander Bogaerts away from Boston on another eleven-year deal worth $280 million and a full no-trade clause and no opt-outs.
So of the Fantastic Four shortstops on the trading block, we have whittled it down to two.
Lieutenant Dansby has been a sleeper in the news so far, primarily because of the preoccupation that the media had with waiting for the inevitable to happen in Philly and then the will they/won’t they saga unfolding before their eyes in Boston.
It often gave the public an unfair impression that Swanson was either not heavily courted or ring fenced by Atlanta. Neither could be further from the truth.
Throughout all of the back-room dealing for Bogaerts, the Red Sox were quietly planning for his departure and are reportedly very happy with the possibility of contracting Swanson as a like-for-like swap that is two years younger. And the numbers certainly back that position up, with Swanson a .255 career hitter and 102 home runs stacking up nicely with where Bogaerts was two years ago.
As for the Braves? They would certainly prefer to hang on to their shortstop, but feel that they can afford to be cavalier about the situation with the development depth that they have. The other option is that they may be happy to make a late play for Carlos Correa, and have reason to feel that they have a good chance of getting him.
There are still other teams in the mix, with rumors flying around the league almost minute-by-minute that Dansby reportedly “loves Chicago” or that the Cardinals are high on the list of teams that could win his favor.
Atlanta Braves beat writer Mark Bowman says, “The Cubs, Cardinals, Twins and Red Sox are among the teams that have thus far shown the most interest in Swanson.”
With the pedigree of both team and player on the line, it is hard to find a better fit than Swanson at Boston.
Exponentially more problematic is Carlos Correa. One of the best middle infielders in the game, Correa’s level of play is not in question. The two-time All-Star and Gold Glove winner is the equal of any man in the job today, and as a career .279 hitter with 155 home runs, he belongs firmly in the fray for any team on the hunt for a great shortstop.
The problem with Correa is the 2017 Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal that simply won’t lie down. Most of the players and managers involved in that event have managed to move on from it, however tenderly, with teams and fanbases alike managing to let the past go.
Perhaps in a nod to the fact that both the Red Sox and Yankees were caught red-handed doing the same thing in the seasons leading up to 2017, Alex Cora and Gerrit Cole have been taken into the fold. Even Justin Verlander has managed to scythe his way through the hyperbole to leave the stench of that event behind him.
But Correa presents another level of dislike for fans to swallow, principally for his unapologetic take on the whole issue. Despite coming back later with a more concessional attitude, his original stance of “If you don’t know the facts, you need to shut the f*** up” is the one that sticks in the craw most with fans.
Between 2014 and 2018, all 32 MLB teams misused the video feeds to steal signs. That is the reason that MLB started placing officials in the replay room. The Astros were bold and brash about it, rather than sneaky, and most importantly for the lingering bad feelings is that they then won the World Series.
His brashness came back to bite Correa, when the Dodgers, who were reportedly inches away from a mega-deal with Correa, backed out of negotiations, citing the displeasure that their fan base felt about the prospect of having Correa in Los Angeles.
So who is still in on Correa? Boston, Minnesota, St Louis, Chicago, and Atlanta all could make use of his services, and while the Twins are unlikely given that he opted out of his deal with them to test the market, it is unwise to rule them out. Agent Scott Boras suggests that the Twins are heavily interested, but since the Aaron Judge $360 million deal, the landscape has shifted.
The Cubs will be looking hard at Correa either as a first or second choice if their interest in Swanson is to be believed, and Atlanta will be in a similar position. But there is a dark horse in the mix to be considered, which could be the San Francisco Giants.
Having lost out on their preferred player when Aaron Judge signed with the Yankees, the Giants may be willing to take the consistent bat of Correa as a compensation prize. They have $300 million or so laying around and if they can stick one to the Dodgers while they are at it, well, nobody in the Bay Area would feel too bad about that.