Shortstop Dansby Swanson is everything that the Chicago Cubs could have asked for during the first year of his seven-year contract with the team.
Swanson's importance to the Cubs on the field has been on display since the first game of the season but it is his importance off the field that has truly cemented his role as the new captain of the Cubs.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic highlighted what was going on inside the Cubs' clubhouse in the weeks leading up to the MLB Trade Deadline and Swanson was not holding back during conversations with team president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer.
"“My thing was, you can’t just turn it on and off, when you want to win,” Swanson said. “If we want to be good, the expectation needs to be that we’re going to win. Just because it’s not going purely as planned this year, you get to a deadline, (you can’t just say) we’re done with the year.- Dansby Swanson via The Athletic
“The message still has to be to everyone that the expectation is this,” Swanson continued, raising his hand above his head. “I just kind of said now is a real important moment in culture setting. If we want to be winners here, we can’t just say, ‘All right, we’re going to turn our winner mindset on next year when we feel like we have everything right.’ No. The winning mindset stays at all times.”"
Prior to the Cubs making the decision during the final weekend ahead of the MLB Trade Deadline on August 1, there was a sense that the team was going to forgo the idea of making a push for a postseason spot this season and move starting pitcher Marcus Stroman and center fielder Cody Bellinger.
The pushback to the idea of the Cubs selling was that if the front office was not going to provide a vote of confidence to the roster this season, then what is the direction that Hoyer is trying to follow? Selling for a third consecutive season, especially in a year where the St. Louis Cardinals' collapse has made winning the National League Central an attainable goal, would have been a tough pitch for Hoyer to sell the fanbase on August 2.
Not only did Hoyer show his confidence in the roster, but he also added the top rental bat available at the deadline in Jeimer Candelario. The acquisition of Candelario cemented the shift in focus for the Cubs. That would be the reason why Seiya Suzuki is now in a platoon role. That is the reason why struggling veteran Drew Smyly was removed from the starting rotation.
The rebuild is over and Swanson is a large part of the reason why. Once considered to be the least desirable option among the top-tier free agent shortstops last winter, Swanson is proving to be the best addition for the Cubs since Jon Lester in 2015.