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Atlanta Braves hot pan: Braves could just let Vaughn Grissom handle SS

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So it’s been a few days since Dansby Swanson made up his mind and got a lucrative salary from the Chicago Cubs. As far as the Cubs go, I’d say they’re going to get one hell of a shortstop defensively. While there are questions about Dansby’s bat from a consistency standpoint, there’s no questioning what he can do with his glove. He’s a bonafide stud out there on the corner of the keystone and between him and Nico Hoerner, the Cubs must be feeling pretty good about what they have to do in the middle of the infield.

Also from a personal point of view, Dansby will now play in the same city as his young wife, Mallory Pugh. Mallory plays for the Chicago Red Stars from nwsl (and if you caught the soccer bug after the World Cup and you’re still there by 2023, I highly recommend checking out the NWSL when it kicks off at the end of March next year) so that means that they will build a life together in Chicago. From that perspective alone, it looks like Dansby Swanson made the right call and I’m sure I’m not the only one wishing him the best of luck – as long as he has a lot of bad luck playing. … our Braves, of course.

Speaking of the Braves, where does that leave them currently? They’ve come this far in the offseason without fixing their shortstop situation, whether through free agency or trade, and only now have they added an outfielder with Signature by Jordan Luplow. That being said, Luplow is likely going to fight for a position out of spring training and figures to be a pack bat at best. It’s a good move on its own that title contenders do to complete teams, but it’s definitely not the type of move that will really move the needle. Still, we’re going to need a clear idea of ​​what the Braves are going to do at shortstop going forward.

That being said, I think we all had an idea of ​​what was going to happen when it became clear that the Braves weren’t going to go for a whirlwind signing when it came to big free agent shortstops. which were available. While there’s still plenty of time for the Braves to potentially complete a trade or other acquisition, it looks like they’re headed for the good old Next Man Up approach. Which means Vaughn Grissom, come on!

Miami Marlins vs. Atlanta Braves

I know man! Sounds exciting!
Photo by Adam Hagy/Getty Images

I’m going to be completely honest with you all: Grissom was not initially going to be my first choice for the 2023 Opening Day shortstop starter for the Braves. He wasn’t my second choice either! My first would have been to see the Braves bring home one of the best free agent shortstops on the board (my conspiracy theory linking the Braves to Carlos Correa turned out to be a flash in the pan) and the second choice would have been to bring Dansby Swanson back if it comes down to that. I don’t think anyone here would have been strongly opposed to Swanson staying in Atlanta for a few more years, would they? Either way, I’m not going to lie to you all: I was pretty concerned that the Braves might be heading into next season throwing Vaughn Grissom into the fire like that.

However, my opinion went from “Oh no” to “Well, wait a sec, now; maybe they should try that” when I saw a few things this offseason. The first thing was the Preliminary ZiPS projections that Dan Szymborski crushes at FanGraphs. While we haven’t seen the individual numbers yet, the Braves should still be a great team on paper (a division-winning team, actually) and that’s assuming Dansby Swanson, in fact, would dive over from town. That’s because Szymborski had this very interesting nugget to say about the current situation in Atlanta:

Here we see the results of Alex Anthopoulos ruthlessly ensuring that the entire core of Atlanta stays in place for a very long time. Dansby Swanson is a big loss, but when you see the projection for Vaughn Grissomyou’ll understand why the Braves dominate this very preliminary round of the NL East standings.

Well, that is certainly intriguing! Granted, I can understand if people are a little wary of ZiPS, since it’s one of those new projects that only us nerds really get into on a regular basis, but it definitely caught my attention in a positive way. Another thing was seeing these comments from Ron Washington, who has worked hard with Vaughn Grissom so far this offseason:

So, the scans indicate that Vaughn Grissom could be in line to be a highly capable replacement for Dansby Swanson and Grissom also passes Ron Washington’s insight test. While Alex Anthopoulos’ comments could still be construed as GM speech, there’s still enough information to conclude there may be something up with Vaughn Grissom as the Braves head into 2023. he memorably opened the doors to the majors, it would be understandable to be a little skeptical about whether or not he can sustain it for a full campaign in the future.

That’s why I think the Braves should still add to the shortstop position before the end of the offseason. While it would be nice if Grissom swooped in and became the daily shortstop right out of the gate with Orlando Arcia filling him in from time to time, it would be nice not to just put all the pressure on him in his first full season. . . .

Colorado Rockies vs. Atlanta Braves

Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

One thing I don’t see happening is another trade. While I’m still pretty confident in the Braves when it comes to player evaluation and development, I think we’ve finally reached the end of an era when it comes to Atlanta’s system that is full of prospects. All potential impact prospects have either graduated, been traded or are still years away from being big league ready. That means the choices will be pretty slim when it comes to shipping farmhands for big league talent and that’s why I think a splat trade probably won’t be imminent anytime soon.

That leaves the option of free agency and the two obvious answers here are Elvis Andrus and José Iglesias. Both are essentially tied for being the best shortstops available in the free agency market and they are absolutely a few levels below marquee signings. Plus, no matter who you get when it comes to these two, it’s pretty clear you’re signing them for their glove and not their bat – Andrus has only had two full seasons where he’s crossed the line. average league mark of 100 wRC+ (109) in 2016 and 105 in 2017) and Iglesias has only done so once in a season where he has played over 100 games (102 wRC+ in 2013).

Elvis Andrus can still play defense at a very solid level (3 OAAs last season put him in the 84th percentile of all qualified defenders) and José Iglesias can do that with the glove as well. I imagine either of them would serve as a defensive upgrade over Grissom, whose defensive abilities are the main reason he’s not really projected to become elite in this position. . He can definitely pick up, but he’ll still need a lot of work on defense, which is why he’s been with Ron Washington all offseason and why fans are looking at the two aforementioned free agents as potential future options.

Either way, I really hope the Braves sort out their situation at shortstop. I honestly think they could stay true to DH and see what they have by just using their current in-house options for this spot and I’ll also repeat that while signing Jordan Luplow is nice some extra help would be even more pleasant . Clearly the Braves still have a very good team that is already set to be in the playoff conversation for a long time, but it would still be good to see the team spend a decent amount of money improving one of these other sports.

If they don’t step things up at shortstop, then Vaughn Grissom will have a ton of responsibility on his plate in his first full major league season. This team has a good track record of throwing their kids in the fire and watching them walk away unscathed and it looks like they’re on course to do it again as they head into the season ahead.

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