Dansby Swanson: Atlanta Braves’ target all along?


Dansby Swanson was well out of the Atlanta Braves’ draft range in 2015, but did the Braves covet the Vanderbilt shortstop and Marietta native all along?

Dansby Swanson was one of the major trade pieces the Atlanta Braves received from the Arizona Diamondbacks in the Shelby Miller deal. Swanson starred collegiately for the Vanderbilt Commodores and was the No. 1 overall draft pick by the Diamondbacks in the 2015 MLB Amateur Draft. He also grew up in Braves Country, playing high school ball in nearby Marietta. While the Atlanta Braves had shortstop Andrelton Simmons, did the front office want shortstop Dansby Swanson all along?

According to Fangraphs’ David Laurila, it seems that Atlanta Braves general manager John Coppolella had targeted Dansby Swanson since the end of the 2015 MLB season. While Atlanta was a sub-.500 team in 2014, they didn’t finish anywhere near as badly as the Diamondbacks did to draft Swanson No. 1 overall out of Vanderbilt. Arizona had an awful 2014, but turned things around quickly last year and have made many moves to contend in 2016.

Coppolella has a good working relationship with Diamondbacks general manager Dave Stewart and had inquired about Swanson’s availability the last several months. The Braves general manager said, “We’ve been in talks with Arizona since the end of the 2015 season. We hoped to get Swanson, but we didn’t know if, or how, the deal would materialize. We saw him as a fit for us, whether we made the Simmons trade or not. We just want really good players and he’s a really good player.”

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It was impressive that Coppolella was able to pry Dansby Swanson away from the Diamondbacks, not even one year since going No. 1 overall to Arizona in the draft. While Atlanta knew that the club was going to relocate to Marietta in 2017, it had to have taken tremendous foresight to get the Marietta native to Atlanta well before Opening Day at SunTrust Park.

Simmons may not have actually been a long-term solution for the club, but how could the Braves organization know that Arizona would go into win-now mode this soon? Perhaps Coppolella inquired so intently on centerfielder A.J. Pollock, knowing that Stewart wasn’t going to ship his All-Star outfielder in a year gearing up towards contention, only to reveal his true target in Dansby Swanson before completing the deal with the Snakes.

Atlanta seems to have a solid short-term solution at shortstop in Erick Aybar, the Major League piece the Braves received in the Andrelton Simmons trade with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Since Swanson played collegiately at Vanderbilt, his estimated time of arrival is much closer than any former high school prospect Atlanta has in its system. He could potentially be ready to suit up for the Atlanta Braves in 2017.

With the way the team may sell away its Major League trade assets again near the MLB Trade Deadline this upcoming season, Dansby Swanson could wear the Atlanta A hat sooner than we honestly think. Remember that Simmons played around a month in AA Mississippi in 2012 before the Atlanta Braves called him up. If the bat is respectable and the leather is there, I don’t see why the Atlanta Braves won’t fast track shortstop Dansby Swanson to hasten the rebuilding process.

Next: Ender Inciarte: Would Braves move leadoff hitter?

With all Atlanta Major League players but first baseman Freddie Freeman on the metaphorical table for John Coppolella and the rest of the Atlanta Braves front office, expect the organization to make several more trades to stockpile assets so that the team can contend as early as 2017, probably in the 2018 MLB season. If Atlanta keeps winning trades with high-end talent, this rebuild could stand as both brief and tremendously effective. Go Braves!