Little progress has been made in talks between the owners and players, but there’s still hope that an agreement will be made soon enough to begin spring training as scheduled. If that happens, expect a free-agent frenzy to take place. Many star players remain unsigned, and as far as the Braves are concerned, all eyes are on Freddie Freeman.
Most in the industry remain convinced that Freeman will be back in Atlanta for 2022 and beyond, but those same people also admit that the situation isn’t as certain as it seemed when the offseason began. If the right deal comes along, there’s a possibility Freeman could be playing in a new uniform next season. There won’t be a lack of suitors once the lockout ends, and Alden Gonzalez of ESPN (ESPN+ subscription required to view) recently broke down the top 5 fits for Freeman in free agency.
5. Detroit Tigers
As Gonzalez points out, the Tigers are an imperfect fit for Freeman. They are young and look to be turning the corner towards contention. For those reasons, he makes a lot of sense. However, the Tigers have a first baseman and DH in Miguel Cabrera and Spencer Torkelson. They could potentially shake things around to make it work, but the odds that Freeman is interested in joining a team like Detroit and the Tigers pony up that much for a player that doesn’t exactly fit into their infield are pretty low.
4. Toronto Blue Jays
This would be absolutely filthy if it happened. The Blue Jays already feature one of the most potent offenses in the majors, and they look to have a much-improved rotation heading into 2022. They are my favorites to win a highly competitive AL East next season, and they might turn into American League favorites if they were to add Freeman. Toronto has spent a lot of money over the last two offseasons, so I’m not sure they have the funds to afford Freeman. A move like this would also mean Vladdy Jr. taking more reps at third base. Still, this would be an acquisition the Blue Jays have to consider strongly, which should scare the rest of baseball.
3. Los Angeles Dodgers
Typing out such a thing makes me want to puke, but Freeman to the Dodgers could be a perfect match. He’s a Southern California native, and the Dodgers have an opening at first base. Max Muncy can shift to second, and the DH likely coming to the National League would make things even easier for Dave Roberts when constructing his lineup. Losing Freeman would be devastating for the Braves, but losing him to their biggest rival outside of the NL East is the worst-case scenario. Unfortunately, it’s a real possibility.
2. New York Yankees
Another image that makes my stomach turn, Freeman is an obvious fit in New York. Several reports have already linked the two, and you can bet the Yankees will make a hard push once the lockout ends if Freeman doesn’t strike a deal with the Braves quickly. New York currently doesn’t have a first baseman, given Anthony Rizzo is also testing unrestricted free agency.
1. Atlanta Braves
Were you expecting anything else? The Braves are still Freeman’s most likely destination for a number of reasons, but most importantly, it’s the best fit! Beyond the Braves’ need for a first baseman, his presence in the locker room cannot be replaced. Freeman is the face of the franchise, the engine that makes this whole thing turn. Losing him would not just mean losing the best first baseman in baseball, but it would also be a gut punch to the entire clubhouse. Freeman belongs in Atlanta, and hopefully, Alex Anthopoulos locks him up long-term once the lockout comes to an end.