At first, Dansby Swanson wasn't sure if the Cubs were the right fit

Seattle Mariners v Chicago Cubs
Seattle Mariners v Chicago Cubs / Chris Coduto/GettyImages

The Cubs faced an uphill battle when it came to landing a shortstop from last winter's star-studded free agent class. After all, they barely more thn a year removed from a complete dismantling of the core that erased a 108-year championship drought on the North Side.

No notable extensions with any member of that group came to be. Emotions ran high in the hours and days that followed the 2021 trade deadline and both sides made comments that were less than ideal in the public eye. Chicago went 71-91 that year and followed it up with another sub-.500 campaign last year, going 74-88 - although a strong second-half performance offered up some positives.

Dansby Swanson signing shows the Cubs have a legitimate plan

Still, with teams like the San Diego Padres and Philadelphia Phillies lurking in the free agent waters with their eyes on adding shortstops, the Cubs were looking up at the pack when it came to luring a player of Swanson's caliber to the North Side.

"Basically [he] said, 'To tell the truth, I wasn't sure this was the right place for me.' But he became convinced. And when I saw him, he was happy that he made that decision. "

Jon Heyman on Dansby Swanson

At the end of the day, though, the front office got their guy - signing Swanson to a seven-year, $177 million deal, the second largest contract in Cubs history. But this is an important reminder to a fanbase that quickly grew frustrated with the small market behaviors displayed by one of the most valuable franchises in all of sports: winning matters not just to us, as fans, but to players, as well.

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As I wrote about earlier this week, Swanson is a guy who lives to win. That's all he's ever really known, dating back to his college days playing at Vanderbilt. The fact that Jed Hoyer and the front office was able to sell him on the plan should tell us what we need to know: it's a plan worth believing in - and one that could bear fruit sooner rather than later.