NORTH PORT, Fla. - Just as this past offseason was about Freddie Freeman, the next one could be about Dansby Swanson.

Whether because of contract extensions (Ronald Acuña and Ozzie Albies) or simply because of service time (Max Fried and Austin Riley), almost all of the Braves’ core is under team control for years. But Swanson, the shortstop acquired in a 2015 trade with Arizona, is a free agent at season’s end.

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Would Swanson engage in negotiations with the team during the season?

“I haven’t even thought about it,” he told The AJC on Friday. “But my off-the-cusp answer would be no. There’s no point in having extra distractions. This game’s hard enough as it is. You want to put all your energy into the game and your teammates. And that’s the real reason why you do play, is for your teammates and to win. So if things are taking away from that focus, then it’s not worth it.”

If Swanson continues to feel that way, it might mean the Braves’ most certain avenue to keeping him around would be to extend him before opening day. Freeman’s situation is much different, but it does provide an example of how it might be tougher for a team to retain a player as he gets closer to free agency.

Swanson has been part of the Braves’ young core that rose from a playoff contender to a World Series winner. There’s a chance this could be his final season, which is the reality of the situation when free agency is involved.

“It’s definitely been on my mind,” Swanson said Friday. “But I mean, a lot of that’s out of my hands. Just play. I feel like I’ve always done a pretty good job of just playing to win. That’s just kind of how God made me is just to win games. That’s kind of the focus for the year and just let him lead me wherever it is I’m supposed to be after.”

Swanson likely would have suitors in free agency. He’s a quality shortstop, but won’t come at as high of a cost as, say, Carlos Correa or Javier Baez.

Over a career that began in 2016, Swanson has averaged a .727 on-base plus slugging percentage and 19 home runs per season. According to Baseball Savant, Swanson is tied with a host of others for 10th in baseball among shortstops with 3 Outs Above Average (a metric that attempts to define fielding skill based on plays made and the difficulty of them).

In terms of shortstops, next offseason’s free-agent class doesn’t look as deep as the last one. Xander Bogaerts (Red Sox), Tim Anderson (White Sox) and Trea Turner (Dodgers) are a few names that could hit free agency.

Eddie Rosario excited to be back with Braves

The Braves were Eddie Rosario’s first choice for a simple reason.

“Because we won the World Series,” he said through team interpreter Franco Garcia. “Every player wants to be on a winning team. The way the organization and the fans treated me was amazing, so why not be here? Where else would I want to be?”

Rosario is excited to be back with the Braves after starring for them in a magical postseason run. The NLCS MVP said he thought about the incredible playoff moments all offseason. He called the experience “a dream.”

Now he’s back for more.

“I’m going to come in with the same mentality that I did last year, which is just to showcase my ability, to help the team, prove that I’m a good player, put together a great season and do whatever I can to help this team win,” Rosario said. “The rest, the season will speak for itself.”

Rosario is a contact bat who features some power, but his bat-to-ball skills are most important to the Braves. He’s also a left-handed hitter, which provides balance to a team with a lot of righties.

He’s a nice addition for the Braves, who play in a division with stud pitchers Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer, Zack Wheeler and others.

“I think in our division, his bat is really going to be important,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “And he’s pretty versatile where you can put him in the lineup. … A guy like him can really balance a lineup out and make it hard on the opposition.”

Alex Dickerson competing for spot on Braves

This week, the Braves signed outfielder Alex Dickerson. They’re giving him a chance to make the team because he still has one minor-league option remaining.

“I think they’re pretty good,” Dickerson said of his chances of making the big club. “You don’t really try to think about that. You don’t try to play GM, you just try to get in there and do what you can to be ready for the season, see what happens.”

Dickerson has had some offensive success over his career -- he’s posted a .799 OPS -- but he struggled last season. He said he cleaned up his mechanics, like his bat path, over the offseason. Now, he added, it’s a matter of getting comfortable in the box again.

Notes from a 3-1 win over the Twins

The Braves on Friday opened their Grapefruit League schedule with a 3-1 win over the Twins at CoolToday Park. Here are a few notable points from the day:

  • Matt Olson popped out to second base in his first at-bat (spring at-bat, at least) for the Braves, but redeemed himself with a run-scoring single in his next plate appearance.
  • Outfielder Drew Waters, who is in an important spring for him, blasted a solo home run. “He’s looked good in BP to me,” Snitker said after the game.
  • Right-hander Bryce Elder, who earned the start for the Braves, pitched three hitless innings. He struck out two and walked another. “I like how he goes about it,” Snitker said. “He’s one of those guys that, even in the clubhouse, it’s all business and he’s focused on what he needs to do.”
  • Braves pitching carried a no-hitter into the ninth. Righties Darius Vines and Victor Vodnik pitched after Elder. After them, Jasseel De La Cruz allowed three hits. Snitker said he’s liked Vodnik since last year. Of Vines, he said: “I love the fact that he can throw the ball over, too, and change speeds. It looked like his fastball has a little giddy-up on it, too. Like him a lot.”
  • Michael Harris, considered the Braves’ top prospect after they traded Shea Langeliers, collected a hit and stole a base.

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