Braves GM talks handling free agent losses like Freddie Freeman and Dansby Swanson

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The Braves have said goodbye to franchise greats Freddie Freeman and Dansby Swanson in back-to-back offseasons, and it’s expectedly bothered Braves Country. Freeman is a future Hall of Famer and one of the greatest Braves of all time; his departure certainly hurts more, especially considering it was over minor differences. Swanson isn’t nearly as accomplished, and the differences at the negotiating table were too far to be upset about. Still, seeing both move on stings, but the Braves just keep rolling, and it’s a testament to the culture within the organization.

“I think it’s the people you choose to bring in,” Alex Anthopoulos told The Athletic in an interview. “The people make the culture. There’s a feel. You need talent, of course. But there’s other components to it. The players set the culture, set the tone.”

That culture was instilled in the ’90s and still exists today . It’s woven in the franchise’s fabric. Matt Olson shed light on this subject on the Starting 9 podcast, telling the hosts the city, stadium, facilities, and fan base are some of the reasons why the Braves have such a special organization. Braves Country is as passionate as any fan base in baseball, and The Battery is one of the coolest venues in sports. But even if Anthopoulos doesn’t want to take any credit, it starts up top with him and Terry McGuirk.

McGuirk gives Anthopoulos everything a GM needs to get the absolute most out of the staff, players, etc. Anything that will translate to more wins is a no-brainer. Workplace environment is extremely important to AA, and he’s done a masterful job putting the right people in place. It’s a perfect cocktail of fan support because of an excellent stadium, winning, and leadership re-investing in the team instead of lining their own pockets. It’s created a place where people love coming to work. Baseball is one of a kind; 162 games is a marathon, and when you hate the people you work with, it becomes impossible to win. AA explains this perfectly

“I always said in my mind a good clubhouse, I think part of what it does is maybe the winning is not a guarantee, but it prevents the floor from caving in. You have a lot of times where things aren’t going well, and with the bad clubhouse (there is) the finger-pointing, the complaining, the infighting… We’re around each other way too much, way too often. And separately from that, it’s a quality of life thing.”

I make all of these points because when a team has a solid foundation, no single player or person is going to make or break the culture — even if it’s someone as foundational as Freddie Freeman or Dansby Swanson. Alex Anthopoulos and the Braves have a structure in place to handle such free agent losses.

“And you wonder — OK, there’s gonna be a void, and how does that void get filled? It will get filled organically, whether somebody wants to or not; it just happens. Definitely won’t be the same. But that’s what I’ve talked about before, you want to flood the clubhouse (with good guys),” the Braves GM explained. 

Normally, if a championship-caliber club were to lose the face of its franchise — Freddie Freeman — they don’t win 100+ games the following year. The Braves did, and it’s a testament to the culture and talent from top to bottom. From Terry McGuirk and Alex Anthopoulos to the players, the fans and game day staff, the Atlanta Braves are a world-class organization. No single person will change that.

Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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