Cubs agree to 7-year deal with All-Star shortstop Dansby Swanson

Swanson’s signing sends a message about the Cubs’ trajectory in 2023.

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The Cubs promised they’d compete next season, and they sent a message to back up that claim Saturday. 

They agreed on a seven-year, $177 million contract with All-Star shortstop Dansby Swanson, a source confirmed. The deal includes a full no-trade clause.

Swanson had plenty of suitors as the last man available out of a quartet of top-tier free-agent shortstops. The other three signed in the span of about a week, all for at least 11 years and $280 million.

He is poised to give the Cubs an offensive boost. Swanson doesn’t have as long an offensive track record as Carlos Correa, Trea Turner or Xander Bogaerts, but, at 28, he had his best season in 2022, showing a high upside just before hitting free agency. He earned his first All-Star selection, won his first Gold Glove and slashed .277/.329/.447.

The previous year, he helped lead the Braves to a World Series title. 

Swanson’s defensive prowess makes him an especially good fit for the Cubs. With him at shortstop, homegrown middle infielder Nico Hoerner is expected to move back to second base, where he was a Gold Glove finalist two years ago. 

Playing Swanson and Hoerner side by side gives the Cubs a standout duo up the middle as the ban on defensive shifts goes into place for 2023. 

“It’s really important to have good defense up the middle,” Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer said this month. “A middle-of-the-infield player, you can’t hide in the shift anymore. So I think that’s going to expose those guys even more, and it makes athleticism and defense in the middle of the infield that much more important.”

Swanson also has ties to Chicago through his wife, Red Stars and U.S. women’s national team forward Mallory Pugh. The pair married last weekend. 

Hoyer and Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts have talked about the team’s financial flexibility leading into this offseason. But entering this weekend, the club had yet to make a statement signing.

The Cubs had fortified their outfield by adding Cody Bellinger on a one-year deal ($17.5 million guaranteed with a mutual option for 2024), hoping they’ll be able to help him tap back into the offensive success that made him an MVP in 2019 and expecting his defensive skills to give them a boost either way. 

They’d begun filling out their pitching staff, agreeing to a four-year, $68 million deal with starter Jameson Taillon and signing veteran reliever Brad Boxberger to a one-year, $2.8 million contract with a mutual 2024 option.

It’s Swanson’s signing, however, that shows the Cubs are truly making a push into a new phase of their rebuild, shrinking the gap between a 74-88 season in 2022 and their next championship window. 

Swanson’s free-agent deal is the second-highest in Cubs history by total guaranteed money and average annual value. He trails only Jason Heyward (eight years, $184 million) in the first category, and Jon Lester ($25.83 million AAV) in the second. 

Still, the fact that the Cubs were able to land Swanson on a seven-year deal, rather than venturing into double digits, lines up with Hoyer’s “intelligent spending” mantra. 

The Cubs have holes to fill in the bullpen and behind the plate and more depth to add, but they made their splash signing just in time for the holiday season. 

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