On Tuesday night, the San Francisco Giants came to terms with Carlos Correa on a 13-year, $350M contract that makes him the third-highest-paid free agent in MLB history. With Correa, Xander Bogaerts, and Trea Turner off the board, that leaves Dansby Swanson as the only top shortstop on the market.
After losing Bogaerts, would the Boston Red Sox really go out and target the last big shortstop standing? According to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, they’re a potential option for Swanson. Bob Nightengale of USA Today says they’re “in play.” (Apologies for the rhyme.)
Red Sox rumored to be in the mix for last top free-agent shortstop Dansby Swanson
Swanson, the first overall pick in the 2015 draft, is a career .255/.321/.417 hitter who averages 20 home runs and 32 doubles per 162 games. He’s a solid all-around player, but not exactly a superstar; he strikes out a bit more than league average, and it’s concerning that his walk rate has dropped significantly each year since 2019. But he’s coming off his first All-Star and Gold Glove season, and over the past two seasons, he showed impressive durability by playing 322 of 324 regular-season games. It’s especially remarkable, given that the Atlanta Braves also played the full postseason in 2021 to win their first World Series since 1995. He won’t turn 29 until mid-August, so he’s more than a year younger than Bogaerts, and 13 months older than Correa; each of them got 11+ years and at least $280M.
Before the Padres swooped in with their 11-year offer to Bogaerts, Bloom noted that Trevor Story and Kiké Hernández were in-house shortstop options, but that they ‘hoped it wouldn’t come to that.’ But if the Sox were only willing to offer Bogaerts, their captain and two-time champion, six years and $160M, it seems unlikely they’d go bigger for Swanson, and they’d need to, given the market this offseason.
However, the Sox have a pattern of going bigger for free agents than their own homegrown talents. They lowballed and traded Jon Lester in 2014, only to turn around and give David Price the richest contract for a pitcher in history at the time. During last week’s Winter Meetings, they gave Nippon star Masataka Yoshida – who’s never played in MLB before – an enormous contract that baffled scouting directors around the league, hours before officially losing Bogaerts. Offering Swanson more money – even if he ended up elsewhere – would certainly be a huge insult to Bogaerts, but he’s probably used to that by now.
It’s hard to see the Sox ending up with Swanson. He’s seen what the other three shortstops commanded, and even though he’s viewed as the most affordable of the quartet, he’s sure to exceed his contract projections by a significant amount, because the others did. Ten active players have contracts of 11 years or more, and current Sox ownership has never signed a free agent for longer than seven years or more than $215M; Manny Ramirez got eight years from the last ownership in 2000.