Freddie Freeman Free Agency – Beyond the Score in the Box

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Less than two weeks after becoming a World events champion, Freddie Freeman is without a team. The six-foot-five, 220-pound first baseman has been the heart and soul of Atlanta baseball for more than a decade. During this time, he has established himself not only as one of the best hitters in the game, but also as one of the most beloved. Adding Freeman would instantly improve any team, but his contender market can be surprisingly small.

Freeman’s return to Atlanta is perhaps the most obvious adjustment for any free agent and any team this winter. Nothing is ever a guarantee, but even the mere thought of Freeman donning another uniform seems far-fetched as it appears that both parties have a vested interest in a reunion.

Atlanta has more than enough financial flexibility to make a significant commitment. This flexibility stems from contract extensions granted to Ozzie Albies ($ 35M / 7 years with team options in 2026 and 2027) and Ronald Acuña Jr ($ 100M / 8 years with team options in 2027 and 2028). By locking up these young stars so far below their market value, they are able to be able to offer the face of their franchise a big deal.

Additionally, the only players expected to make $ 10 million or more in 2022 are Charlie Morton, Marcell Ozuna (whose status and salary for next season are still in limbo), the aforementioned Acuña and Dansby Swanson, who Spotrac is projecting. to earn $ 10.1 million through arbitration.

The Braves have managed to put themselves in a position where they both locked their stars (although Swanson only has a year in control) without having huge contracts on the books.

Freeman was extended a qualifying offer from his former employer (a one-year contract worth $ 18.4 million) on Sunday, an offer he will no doubt decline. If Freeman signs elsewhere, his former team will receive at least one draft pick as compensation.

Freeman’s departure would leave a huge hole in Atlanta’s roster and clubhouse. This winter presents a relatively thin class of first baseman. Beyond Freeman, San Francisco’s Brandon Belt and former Cub Anthony Rizzo are the most important first baseman in the market. Both appear to be suitable replacements, and both will come at a much cheaper price.

Additionally, there are a number of outfielders on the market this year who could potentially convert to full-time first base. This list includes Mark Canha, Adam Duvall, and Kyle Schwarber, among others.

The commercial market presents another handful of interesting options. Matt Olson may be one of the best players available this winter, as track and field manager Bob Melvin’s departure from San Diego seems to indicate a rebuild is coming in Oakland. Miguel Sano of Minnesota, Nathaniel Lowe of Texas and Josh Bell of Washington all have a huge advantage while currently being stranded at first base for non-competitors. None of them can be expected to fill Freeman’s shoes, but they’re all more affordable and competent options with the potential to be impact hitters.

If Freeman leaves, there are only a handful of other teams that make a lot of sense. The most obvious would be the Giants. With Brandon’s aforementioned belt hitting free agency, the Giants are left with a hole at the start. While a reunion with Belt always seems like the most likely and best scenario for the team, signing Freddie Freeman is more than just a consolation prize. After Buster Posey retires, the Giants only have two players earning over $ 6 million in 2022 (Brandon Crawford and Evan Longoria), meaning the club have more than money available to take such a decision.

The Yankees are another potential landing point, depending on Luke Voit’s health. Brian Cashman demonstrated his and the club’s apprehension over Voit’s health by making a deal for Anthony Rizzo in 2021. It is possible that Voit’s health and his team’s confidence in him have rebounded since then. If not, Freeman to the Bronx makes a lot of sense. Freeman’s left-handed stick complements both the current roster and the Yankees stadium. The Yankees are expected to be heavily involved in the shortstop market this year, but if they fail to make a splash, Freeman is a fantastic backup plan.

There really aren’t many other clear tweaks, as most contenders already have a basic first plan in place. The Royals would be my “mystery” dark horse team. Carlos Santana has been below fWAR replacement level in 136 first-goal games (158 overall) this season. The Royals have been one of the main talking points during the first two weeks of the season. After playing on April 26, Kansas City sat down at 14-7, baseball’s best record. However, they quickly disappeared and became a non-factor at the end of May. Although it was just a flash in the pan of success, there is still something to be excited about in the near future for this team. The lineup has some shining points in the form of Salvador Perez, Andrew Benintendi, Whit Merrifield and 2021 star shortstop Nicky Lopez. Top prospect Bobby Witt Jr is set to make his debut next season. He could immediately become a major force in the midst of this training. Perhaps the most exciting side of the team is the pitching staff. Brady Singer, Kris Bubic and Daniel Lynch are a trio of young arms (all 25 or younger next season) who, while not dominant in 2021, have more or less managed to tread water without any experience. real strictly speaking. Like the offense, they will soon be joined by top prospect, southpaw Asa Lacy. Once you factor in the relative lack of competition within the division, Freddie Freeman (with a few strokes of luck and a positive development) could send Kansas City back to the playoffs sooner than most thought.

In all likelihood, Freddie Freeman will be with Atlanta next season. Familiarity and fit seemingly make too much sense for this not to happen. But until the ink hits the paper, speculation will continue to fly as to where the 2020 NL MVP will play in 2021.


Matt O’Halloran is a math student at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. He works analytically with the school’s baseball program. He is a writer for Beyond the Box Score and editor at Diamond Digest.


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