Ranking the top 4 shortstop free agents for the SF Giants
4. Dansby Swanson
I do not think there is much of a difference in terms of overall impact between Xander Bogaerts, Trea Turner, or Carlos Correa. You can make a case for any of them being the top option and you would not be wrong. However, Dansby Swanson is my least favorite of the free-agent shortstops.
This may date my a bit but I remember watching Erick Dampier of the Golden State Warriors during the 2003-2004 season. The team was not good, but Dampier had a career year on the floor as he recorded 12.3 points per game to go with 12.0 rebounds per game.
Of course, it was a contract year for Dampier, so he was motivated to make a good last impression before free agency. My Dad and I watched nearly every game that season and I remember my Dad yelling, "Where was this guy five seasons ago?!" The point he was making is that contract years can produce sometimes flukey results.
I am not saying that is the case with Swanson but I am skeptical of a player who happens to have their best season in a contract year. It really makes evaluating a player difficult because he does not have a reliable track record. That is what separates Bogaerts, Correa, and Turner from Swanson. There is a predictable track record with the first three but that is not necessarily the case with Swanson.
Nevertheless, he is picking the right time to flourish. The right-handed bad has tallied a .279/.331/.441 line (114 OPS+) with 22 home runs, 92 RBI, and 94 runs while being worth 5.2 bWAR in 664 plate appearances. The RBI (92), and runs (94) both represent career highs by a considerable margin.
His OPS+ is just one point below a career high that he set in a small sample of 145 plate appearances in 2016. In the five seasons prior to this one, Swanson had registered an 89 OPS+ at the plate, so I think he has the lowest offensive upside of any of the options.
That said, Swanson is an excellent fielder as he has been worth 13 DRS and 32 OAA across seven seasons. He will provide considerable value with the glove, but this may come with several seasons of below-average production at the plate.
He is in line to receive a substantial contract but I would be hesitant to hand out that type of deal for a player who has not consistently produced at an All-Star level like the other options.