For the second offseason in a row, the Atlanta Braves lost a franchise fixture.
One offseason after Freddie Freeman departed for the Dodgers following Atlanta’s trade for Matt Olson, this winter saw Dansby Swanson head to Chicago and join the Cubs.
Swanson, a Kennesaw, Ga., native, signed with the Cubs after manning shortstop for the Braves since late 2016. He really blossomed in 2022, reaching his first All-Star Game and winning a Gold Glove. He seems to be hitting his prime, and he'll spend those top years in Wrigleyville.
Braves manager Brian Snitker told “The Midday Show” on 92.9 The Game that Swanson will always have a fan in him.
“It’s always tough," Snitker said. "When you lose Freddie Freeman, it’s hard to replace Freddie Freeman. We probably did as great of a job as you could with Matt Olson, I mean my god we love Matt. He had a great year. With Dansby, he’s right there too. He’s been a staple on this club for a long time – it’s part of the business, and it is. It’s a business, I wish him well, I’m a huge Dansby Swanson fan, and will always pull for that kid.”
While the Braves had a Freeman replacement before he even left, the vacancy at shortstop should play out a little differently.
Vaughn Grissom is the frontrunner for the gig. The 22-year-old played 41 big league games last season almost entirely at second base, but came up through the minors mostly playing shortstop.
Snitker indicated that there are candidates for the role beyond Grissom.
“When things like (Swanson leaving) happen, it gives somebody else an opportunity to come in and do something really good," Snitker said. "Vaughn has been working really hard this offseason, I know Orlando Arcia is playing winter ball. Braden Shewmake is a kid that has been around in our minor leagues for a number of years now.
“So, I think it’s going to be a fun competition. We’ll see what happens, that’s why we’re going to go down there and play 30-something games. We’ll find out.”