Dansby Swanson rejects qualifying offer from Braves

Atlanta Braves Dansby Swanson (7) tosses a ball in the dugout before Game 4 of baseball's National League Division Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Atlanta Braves, Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The expected became official Tuesday: Dansby Swanson rejected the Braves' qualifying offer.

Don't fret yet, though. This doesn't mean the Braves won't re-sign Swanson.

Swanson turned down the one-year, $19.65 million qualifying offer -- which is normal for free agents of his caliber -- because he can make more on the open market. He almost certainly will be able to earn a multi-year contract with an average annual value greater than the Braves' qualifying offer.

But by extending the qualifying offer, the Braves ensured they'll receive draft-pick compensation if Swanson signs elsewhere in free agency.

So, what's next?

It could be a period of waiting. Or maybe the sides come together to strike a deal.

We know this: The Braves are serious about re-signing Swanson, who seems like he wants to stay. Both sides have incentive to continue their partnership if the price works for both.

Why wouldn't the Braves want Swanson? He might be the best defensive shortstop in baseball, and he's the captain of their clubhouse? And why wouldn't Swanson want to return? Anthopoulos has set up the Braves for sustained success, and staying in Atlanta probably gives Swanson a better situation than many other teams can provide him.

The Braves discussed a contract extension with Swanson's camp during the second half of the season. Publicly, president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos has praised Swanson -- for his leadership and his on-field performance. On the record, Swanson also has expressed his desire to continue wearing the Braves uniform.

All signs point to both sides having interest in continuing the relationship. Of course, anything can occur in free agency, and Swanson has earned the right to test the open market. He's a terrific ballplayer who'll surely have suitors.

Trea Turner, Carlos Correa and Xander Bogaerts are viewed as the top three shortstops on the market this winter. All probably will cost more than Swanson.

Swanson rejecting the qualifying offer was expected. He can earn a better deal by diving into free agency -- and that contract could come from the Braves.

Tuesday's news doesn't change much. The waiting continues.

Braves protect players from Rule 5 draft

Tuesday also marked the deadline for a club to add players to its 40-man roster to protect those players from the Rule 5 draft.

The Braves on Tuesday selected right-hander Roddery Muñoz, infielder Braden Shewmake and right-hander Darius Vines to their major-league roster. They designated fan-favorite Guillermo Heredia for assignment, and did the same to right-handers William Woods and Silvino Bracho.

Shewmake, a shortstop, spent 2022 at Triple-A Gwinnett. He's the organization's No. 5 prospect, per MLB Pipeline.

Muñoz was at High-A Rome before the Braves promoted him to Double-A Mississippi and posted a 4.66 ERA over 22 starts at those levels.

Across Double-A and Triple-A in 2022, Vines recorded a 3.77 ERA over 27 games -- 25 of them starts.

Right-handed pitcher Santana acquired

The Braves and Rangers executed their second trade in six days.

This time, the Braves acquired right-handed reliever Dennis Santana for cash Tuesday. The Braves then designated right-handed reliever Jackson Stephens for assignment.

In Santana, the Braves saw upside. He throws hard, and the Braves could unlock more in him. At his best, Santana has the stuff to be a late-inning reliever. Plus, the Braves didn't pay much for Santana, and Stephens had faded.

In 2022, Santana posted a 5.22 ERA over 58-2/3 innings for the Rangers.