The Chicago Cubs have a top 5 shortstop in baseball according to the latest MLB Network ranking, which put Dansby Swanson at number four on the list.
After Swanson's solid first year in Chicago, the Cubs front office should feel good about the seven-year contract they gave him last offseason. His performance at the plate could have certainly been better, as the 22 home runs, 80 RBI and 104 wRC+ don't exactly light up the stat sheet. But they are serviceable numbers as long as the team isn't relying on him to be the best hitter on the team.
Last year Swanson had many others to share the offensive load, none more so than Cody Bellinger. Hopefully, the Cubs can get a deal done to bring him back because if not, there will be more pressure on Swanson to step it up at the plate. There is definitely a ceiling to Swanson's skills with the bat, but that is fine considering everything else he brings to the table.
Swanson has already taken home a gold glove award for his defensive work in a Cubs uniform and his tandem with second baseman Nico Hoerner gives the Cubs an undeniably elite middle infield. This alone makes Swanson's $177 million contract a sweet deal, but he is also a leader in the clubhouse. His experience winning a World Series with the Atlanta Braves and bringing that winning attitude to Chicago is impossible to put on paper but we know it's there based on stories from this past year.
When the team was teetering and on the verge of falling out of contention in the middle of the season, Swanson was instrumental in convincing general manager Jed Hoyer to buy assets at the trade deadline instead of selling them off. This set the tone for the rest of the season, and the Cubs did everything they could to push their way into the playoffs before just barely falling short. Hoyer also assured fans that Swanson would be involved in offseason moves this winter when the team packed their bags in October. Whether he played a role in Shota Imanaga's signing or the Michael Busch trade is unclear at this point, but I bet Swanson is foaming at the mouth for even more good moves just like the rest of us.
In any case, I'm glad we landed Swanson when we did and I think he was the best fit out of the four shortstops available at the time. The other three men are also on MLB Network's list, with Trea Turner and Carlos Corea ranked below Swanson and Xander Bogaerts just one spot ahead so we made out pretty good and for much less of a financial investment.