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Home of the Brave: What’s next for Freddie Freeman?

Sportsnaut
Nov 5, 2021; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman waves to the crowd during the World Series championship rally at Truist Park. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

First baseman Freddie Freeman remained unsigned Monday but the Atlanta Braves appear to be moving forward as defending World Series champions without him.

Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos said the deal he executed to acquire Oakland A’s All-Star Matt Olson for multiple prospects was more emotional than any transaction in his career.

“Not even close,” he said.

The Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays, Boston Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays, Chicago Cubs and others have been connected to Freeman in the free agency rumor mill. Projections are that Freeman could fetch $250-plus million on the open market.

Trading outfielder Cristian Pache, catcher Shea Langeliers, and right-handed pitchers Ryan Cusick and Joey Estes to the Athletics was costly, but the move underscores the unspoken expectation Atlanta’s front office had that Freeman was set to flee in free agency.

“Every day it felt like it was getting harder to wait,” Anthopoulos said. “This was the first thing that made sense for us, as hard as it was to do.”

Olson, who is from the Atlanta area, played five-plus seasons with the A’s. A two-time Gold Glove winner, Olson was a first-time All-Star in 2021 and finished eighth in American League MVP balloting.

Olson had a stellar season in 2021, batting .271, and tallying 35 doubles, 39 home runs and 111 RBIs — all career highs — in 156 games. He struck out 113 times, slashing 50 off his career high of 163 in 2018.

Freeman, 32, has spent his entire 12-year MLB career with the Braves, who did not lock him up to a new deal before the owners locked out the players in December.

The Braves signed Freeman to an eight-year deal in 2014 that paid him $135 million. Entering free agency, the highest-paid first baseman in terms of average annual value is Paul Goldschmidt of the Cardinals at $26 million per season. Joey Votto’s contract with the Reds is worth $22.5 million per season.

Freeman batted .300 with 31 homers, 83 RBIs and a league-leading 120 runs in 159 games in 2021. He hit .318 with two homers and five RBIs in the six-game World Series triumph over the Houston Astros, Atlanta’s first title since 1995.

He is a lifetime .295/.384/.509 hitter with 271 home runs and 941 RBIs in 1,565 games.

–Field Level Media