Braves: Three bold predictions once the lockout ends

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March is approaching quickly, and while the lockout is still going on, it’s finally beginning to look like an end may be in sight. The owners have made it clear that a deal must be in place by February 28th for the season to start on time. If not, it will be delayed, and postponed games will come next. Neither side wants that to happen, so for the first time since the lockout began, they are meeting on successive days. According to reports, the MLB and MLBPA will meet every day until that February 28th deadline, hoping to spark an agreement. There’s still a long way to go, but it’s progress nonetheless. By this time next week, we could have Major League Baseball back, and when that happens, things will move quickly.

1. The Braves will spend a boatload of money

I have my hunches on who the Braves will spend their money on, and you’ll find some of that out later in this piece, but this is one thing I am sure of — Atlanta will spend in droves once the lockout ends. Now, whether that is on Freddie Freeman and others, we’ll have to wait and see, but I wouldn’t even totally count out a mega-deal for a player like Carlos Correa.

2. No significant trades are made

There has been some trade talk involving the Braves. They’ve been linked to Matt Olson, and I wouldn’t be shocked if they considered trading for a proven starting pitcher. However, I don’t see a deal getting ironed out before the start of the season. There won’t be a ton of time, but more importantly, Anthopoulos has yet to pull the trigger on a big trade since taking over as the Braves general manager.

I’m not going out on a limb here by saying Anthopoulos is a tough negotiator. He’s worked out bargain after bargain in Atlanta with free agents and his own players. I can’t imagine what he’s like at the negotiating table when it comes to trades, which is why I don’t expect any significant trades to take place before the start of the season.

3. Freddie Freeman signs a six-year, $180 million contract

Yeah, I know Buster Olney reported that the belief around Freddie Freeman among those in the industry is that he will not re-sign in Atlanta. Negotiations have supposedly gone stagnant (which isn’t surprising because there has been a lockout) over a sixth year. The Braves reportedly don’t want to go any further than five. If you missed the news from yesterday, here’s an excerpt from Olney’s piece:

So the industry view has shifted; there is a growing belief that Freeman will land somewhere outside of Atlanta because of the standoff in his negotiations. The Braves offered $135 million over five years, sources say, and Freeman is looking for a six-year deal.

“I think [the Braves] will move quickly to settle on an alternative and move on to get past the conversation,” one official said.

On the surface, it sounds plausible, but I’m not buying it. Freeman has made it clear he wants to be in Atlanta for life. On the other hand, the Braves just made a boatload of money off their World Series run. Plus, think about all the money they saved from the contracts of Acuña and Albies. There’s just no way this deal breaks down over an extra year.

Perhaps there is some hardball being played, but the timing of this report is fishy to me. Doesn’t it feel quite convenient that right as progress is being made in lockout negotiations, this bomb drops? It feels a lot like an agent stirring the pot more than anything else. Unless Freeman gets a deal larger than six years, I feel like the Braves eventually will give in to his demands.

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