Freddie Freeman has been the face of the Braves organization for the better part of a decade. However, in free agency this offseason, he sought a lucrative contract that Atlanta’s front office was unwilling to give him.
After the Braves turned down Freeman’s agent’s offer, Atlanta went out and completed a blockbuster trade for Matt Olson, who then immediately signed a massive extension. Once that happened, it was clear the Braves were moving on from Freeman.
On paper, the Braves are a better team now than when they won the World Series; however, baseball’s 162-game season has proven that the best team doesn’t always win it all. The clubhouse chemistry is a key reason why the Braves have outperformed preseason expectations every year. The guys loved playing with one another, and it showed in the standings.
With the leader of the clubhouse now in Dodger Blue, the chemistry of the Braves is certainly something to keep an eye on. Alex Anthopoulos knows that. He appeared on “The Athletic Baseball Show” and admitted that Freeman’s departure rattled the clubhouse.
“They would embrace him anyways, but he’s here (long-term), he’s one of us and he’s part of this core and there’s no ambiguity,” Anthopoulos said of Olson. “I believe, and the players may agree or not agree, I believe there’s something to that because we need these guys to jell and we need these guys to come together.
“When he knows he’s here to stay and he doesn’t have to worry about ‘I need to have a good season because I have to play year-to-year and where am I going to be,’ and the uncertainty and his teammates feel the same way, if that meant we give up a little more in a trade, if that meant we give up a little bit more in an extension, I don’t know how to quantify it, but I do believe having those things in place at that moment in time considering how emotional it was with the signaling of Freddie not coming back – and the clubhouse was rattled, I think that goes without saying that that’s fair to say – I thought that was important because we have a short period of time to get ready.”
Going from Freeman to Olson, there isn’t much of a drop-off in production; I’d even argue the Braves upgraded. Olson is younger and just entering his prime, but Freeman’s intangibles that don’t show up on paper could really be the difference in this move. However, it’s worth noting that a lot of people from Oakland view Olson in a similar vein as Freeman when it comes to clubhouse presence, which is probably why Anthopoulos felt comfortable pulling the trigger.
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