This morning, the Cubs made their signing of Dansby Swanson to a seven-year, $177 million contract official, and the new shortstop was introduced to the media at a news conference broadcast live. All of the information and quotes here are from that live broadcast on Marquee Sports Network.
The presser didn’t begin any differently than any other news conference of its kind — praise passed all around from Cubs President of Baseball Operations Jed Hoyer and Swanson.
But listening to Swanson speak and answer questions for about 45 minutes, I got the impression of a man who knows exactly who he is, where he wants to be, and perhaps most importantly, gave the impression of being a team leader. This is something the Cubs have missed since Anthony Rizzo was traded, and sometimes the term “franchise player” is brought up, though one player by himself isn’t going to make the Cubs a winner. Leadership, though, is important and Swanson gives the feeling that he is just that.
Swanson said, “Winning is a mentality. You have to show up every day thinking you’re going to win — not ‘if.’” This is something any sports team would love to have, and Hoyer added, “It felt like he was interviewing us — how are the Cubs going to win, what’s the plan, what players will you surround me with?”
There was a lot of praise for Cubs players from their newest teammate — Swanson singled out Ian Happ, Yan Gomes, Kyle Hendricks, Marcus Stroman, Justin Steele and Nico Hoerner, as well as his new teammates Cody Bellinger and Jameson Taillon. But beyond that, Swanson appears to have learned at least something about the Cubs up-and-coming prospects and singled out Pete Crow-Armstrong and Brennen Davis as guys he thinks can be future stars for the Cubs.
He’s going to make an effort to reach out to those guys, too, noting that he’d been back in the country “for about 48 hours” following his honeymoon, and would begin to make calls to his new teammates over the coming days.
Swanson thanked the usual folks: Management, ownership, his family, but also praised Cubs fans, saying they show up every day and to be able to perform for a town like that is “remarkable,” walked on the field and said to his wife Mallory Pugh, “This is where we’re supposed to be.”
Then he told a story about his grandfather:
Being a Cub means more to me than anyone might realize. I left my hometown team to be here. Mallory and I got married December 10, the next day my grandfather was in hospice, and so we drove home and went to see him. He died that day. When I was growing up he lived across the yard from me, every day when I’d come home from school I would run in and “demand” that he would hit me ground balls. And he would always have a Cubs game on WGN, I said, “Pops, we’re Braves fans,” but he loved baseball so much and always wanted me to do what I’m doing now.
So it seems Swanson was destined to be a Cub, in a way. He said the Cubs were his “second favorite team.”
We’ve often said how much national cable coverage of the Cubs on WGN meant to creating a huge fanbase for the team. Now it’s had an effect in bringing a star player to the North Side.
And there’s more along that line. Swanson was asked what it was like coming to Wrigley Field with all the day games as a visitor. He said “It was one of my favorite trips of the year, all the wives wanted to come to Chicago. There’s no place better than Wrigley and the fans, it’s such an historic place.” He called Wrigley “baseball in its purest form” and said that when he went on to the field in the morning before the news conference, he felt like a kid on Christmas, and called it “home now, a beautiful place to be.”
And in regard to his wife Mallory now playing in the same city for the NWSL’s Chicago Red Stars, Swanson said it wasn’t a real factor in the contract discussion, but said it was “pretty amazing” to be playing in the same city and he hoped to be able to attend some Red Stars games instead of “watching them on my iPad in the clubhouse.”
One thing that I think is important about Swanson is that he plays every single day. He played all 162 games in 2022, 160 in 2021 and all 60 the Braves played in the shortened 2020 season. He said, “It’s my job and I show up every day ready to work,” and said he’d already had a conversation with David Ross about doing that and “got some pushback.” While playing every single game might not be necessary, it’s also important to note that means he’s been 100 percent healthy over the last few seasons. The last Cub to play 160 games was Javier Báez in 2018.
At the beginning of the news conference they revealed Swanson’s jersey with No. 7 on it, so his buddy Yan Gomes, who wore it in 2022, will be switching numbers.
All in all, I think the Cubs got the right guy. It’s not that the other shortstops on this year’s free-agent market aren’t talented — all of them are. But Swanson seems a perfect fit for this organization, this fanbase and the team Jed Hoyer is trying to build.
Welcome to Chicago, Dansby. You’re going to love it here.