Freddie Freeman is coming to town this weekend in what is sure to be a rollercoaster of emotions for both him, the Braves, and the entire fan base. Despite questions about what kind of reception he will receive, when the moment arrives, a roar of cheers will surely echo throughout The Battery that will be heard miles down interstate 285.
Like most Braves fans, I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to seeing Freeman in Dodger Blue, and in my heart, I always believe he was destined to be a Brave for life. However, there is no questioning what he did for this organization, and it needs to be appreciated, even if it is just for one night.
Knowing what we know now, the events that led to Freeman eventually signing with the Dodgers were wild. The former Braves first baseman was torn between the two cities, but he never actually got to make a decision. Alex Anthopoulos couldn’t let that happen, or else the Braves would have been left with no leverage in negotiations, so he pulled the trigger on the mega-trade that brought Matt Olson to Atlanta first, and then extended him for eight seasons.
It will be at least five years before we know if the Braves made the correct decision, but with Freeman set to take the field at Truist Park in a new uniform for the first time, it’s a perfect opportunity to evaluate how the move has worked out for each team thus far and what the future looks like.
Matt Olson hasn’t been all he was hyped up to be coming over from Oakland, but he hasn’t been chopped liver either. Olson leads Major League Baseball in doubles and is on pace to set the Braves franchise record in the category. His ten homers are a little underwhelming, but as the summer months arrive, that number should spike, and he’s the kind of guy who can pile them up in bunches. Olson has an .820 OPS on the season, which is slightly below his career average, but overall, he’s been just about what one should have expected offensively.
Defense, though, has been a different story. Despite winning two Gold Gloves with The Athletics, Olson hasn’t looked anywhere near a Gold Glove caliber defender in Atlanta. I suspect that will change over the course of his contract, but Gold Gloves for first basemen can be deceiving. From my perspective, Freeman is a significantly better defensive first baseman. ‘
However, you can’t talk Matt Olson without talking about the prospects the Braves sent over to the A’s in the trade as well. Langeliers has turned into one of the top catching prospects in the game, but the rest of them are struggling mightily. Given the emergence of William Contreras, I would say Atlanta came out fantastic in that regard.
Out in Los Angeles, Freeman has been just what the doctor ordered for the Dodgers. He’s hitting .303 with eight homers, which is good for an .880 OPS, and that number appears to be on the rise. 2022 has pretty much been what Freeman has been his entire career. If there’s one thing to worry about, it’s his power numbers, which will likely decline as he ages, but it’s far too early in the season to declare that to be an issue. The Dodgers are thrilled with the production they’ve gotten out of the 2020 NL MVP, and they should be. Freeman is a consummate professional, and it should surprise nobody that he’s doing the same things out west that he did in Atlanta for over a decade.
Would the Braves like to have Freeman on their team this season? The only people saying no are still heartbroken that he left and signed with Atlanta’s most fierce competition in the National League. He’s arguably the best first baseman in baseball, and Olson isn’t quite there yet. With that being said, this decision for the Braves was about the next eight seasons in which they chose the younger player on a more affordable contract. Year 1 of this deal was always likely to be a tough pill to swallow, and so far, that’s exactly what it has been.