Mariners Free Agent Target: Shortstop Dansby Swanson

SEATTLE - SEPTEMBER 09: Dansby Swanson #7 of the Atlanta Braves plays shortstop during the game against the Seattle Mariners at T-Mobile Park on September 9, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. The Braves defeated the Mariners 6-4. (Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
SEATTLE - SEPTEMBER 09: Dansby Swanson #7 of the Atlanta Braves plays shortstop during the game against the Seattle Mariners at T-Mobile Park on September 9, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. The Braves defeated the Mariners 6-4. (Photo by Rob Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

The Seattle Mariners have had one of the fastest starts to the offseason by already completing two trades. First, they acquired OF Teoscar Hernandez from the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for RHP Erik Swanson and LHP Adam Macko. Then they dealt OF/DH Kyle Lewis to the Arizona Diamondbacks for C/OF Cooper Hummel. With the addition of a corner outfielder already, the Mariners should turn their attention to shortstop Dansby Swanson.

The Mariners should turn their attention to upgrading at shortstop because their middle infield is one of the places that they haven’t gotten enough production from to compete with the Astros. The Astros have a veteran stalwart at second base in Jose Altuve, as well as an up-and-comer at shortstop in Jeremy Peña who had a great postseason. Last season the Mariners ran out J.P. Crawford and Adam Frazier, who are a far cry from Houston’s duo.

Last season, Altuve (6.6) and Peña (3.4) combined for 10.0 WAR while Frazier (1.1) and Crawford (2.0) combined for just 3.1 WAR according to Fangraphs. With Frazier leaving as a free agent, the Mariners should prioritize adding a player similar to the level of Jose Altuve to make their middle infield less of a disadvantage for the Mariners.

In 2022, Swanson had his best offensive year yet. He was worth 6.4 WAR while slashing .277/.329/.447 with 25 home runs, 18 stolen bases, 96 RBI, and 99 runs scored leading to a 116 wRC+. Those numbers really emphasize how well-rounded Swanson is as a player. He doesn’t hit for the highest average, get on base the most, or hit the most homers. However, he does every single thing well.

Swanson just is a very good player. He also is an iron man and has played in all but two games in the last three seasons for Atlanta. Swanson would give the Mariners the offensive punch up the middle that the Astros have, take pressure off of Crawford, and slide him to second base where he profiles better offensively.

Not only is Swanson the type of player who would fit well in the Mariners lineup, but Swanson would also statistically be an upgrade defensively over Crawford at shortstop as well. In Outs Above Average, Crawford was in the second percentile while the Vanderbilt product was number one in the 100th percentile. Fangraphs heavily favors Swanson as well; Swanson had a 21.4 Defensive WAR while Crawford had a -1.5.

While Mariners fans would be quick to defend their Gold Glover, I would agree with them. Defensive metrics are not the best way to judge a player, and I personally would say that the gap between Swanson and Crawford is smaller than the numbers suggest. I would give the edge to Swanson, and say that Crawford had one of his worst years defensively, committing a career-high 14 errors compared to Swanson’s 8 errors in 2022.

Adding Swanson would benefit the Mariners defense because they could move Crawford to second base, giving Seattle two Gold Glove shortstops up the middle of their defense. That is something that would give the Mariners an edge over many teams, and that is something that they relied upon greatly in 2022, and should look to improve in 2023.

That is why Dansby Swanson would be a great fit in Seattle.

With all that said about why Swanson is a good fit offensively and defensively in Seattle, a large reason that the former number one overall pick is a great fit compared to the other shortstops on the market is his price. He will cost less than Carlos Correa, Trea Turner, or Xander Bogaerts most likely.

MLB Trade Rumors predicts a 9YR/$288M contract for Correa, 8YR/$268M for Turner, 7YR/189M for Bogaerts, and 7YR/$154M for Swanson. That is just $22 million a year, and at the end of the deal, Swanson would only be 35 because he will play at age 29 in 2023. I firmly believe that giving Swanson $20-25 million per year for 6-8 years to get the deal locked in is worth it.

Dansby Swanson at 7 YR/160M sounds like a great addition for the Mariners

Adding a proven winner to the organization would add a presence to the clubhouse that the Mariners do not have. Dansby Swanson has won at every level. He won a National Championship at Vanderbilt and brought home a World Series title to Atlanta. He can come in and be the icing on a very good Mariners cake. He can be a leader to take the Mariners all the way to the World Series, showing them what it takes from a proven winner and leader.

Next. Mariners Acquire Teoscar Hernandez. dark

Slotting the handsome Dansby Swanson in at the 2-hole in the Mariners lineup for the greater part of a decade to come would be a great way to add to a team that needs to take the next step. Signing Dansby Swanson helps the Mariners go from good to great, and they don’t have to trade any assets for him, they just have to pay him, and he is not going to hamper them from making other moves down the road, and he should be the shortstop the M’s target.