The Atlanta Braves have optioned shortstop Dansby Swanson to Triple-A Gwinnett.
It was a move that was a long time coming. It was probably overdue. Swanson had been relegated to a backup role since the All-Star break, and him neither (a) contributing to the club; or (b) getting regular work in order to develop as a player, was the least optimal of situations.
Swanson has had a down, momentarily up, and then down again season. He batted .156 in April and .216 in May. He rebounded in June, batting .306, but his July has been a nightmare in which he has gone 6-for-48 with only five walks. He has started just six of the Braves 13 games since the All-Star break, losing time to Johan Camargo.
Swanson, 23, jumped from Double-A to the big club in August of last year and hit .302 with an .803 OPS over 38 games. That earned him the shortstop job heading into 2017, but he’s obviously in need of either more seasoning or, at the very least, some time to clear his head, because he’s not getting the job done.
The Orioles singlehandedly kept the rumor mill churning this weekend. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the club is interested in making a play for free agent right-hander Lance Lynn, adding him to a list of potential candidates that also includes free agent righty Alex Cobb. The two are expected to command similar contracts in free agency, but Morosi notes that the Orioles may prefer Cobb based on his familiarity with the AL East.
Lynn, 30, is two years removed from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Despite missing the 2016 season, he bounced back with a respectable 11-8 record in 33 starts and complemented his efforts with a 3.43 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 over 186 1/3 innings for the 2017 Cardinals. He lost several days with a blister on his pitching hand in early September, but managed to avoid any major injuries and can reasonably be expected to shoulder another heavy workload in 2018.
Lynn may not be the Orioles’ first choice to beef up their starting rotation, but there’s no doubt that he’ll be in high demand as one of very few viable starters on the market this winter. The veteran righty rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals on Thursday and will likely be seeking a multi-year contract, one that Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch estimates around five years and $100+ million. If the Orioles are willing to bite that bullet, they’ll still need to compensate the Cardinals with their third pick in next year’s draft.