Not even a month into the offseason, and we’ve already heard a number of rumors surrounding Freddie Freeman. We already know he’s rejected a five-year, $135 million contract from the Braves, which would have made him the highest-paid first baseman in the game. We also know the issue between Freeman and the Braves is the length of the contract. Alex Anthopoulos seems hesitant to offer anything greater than five years, at least thus far, while Freeman is looking for a deal at least six years long. We know the Yankees and their deep pockets are among the teams interested, and most recently, it’s been reported that the fact that there has been no progress between Freeman and the Braves in negotiations is worrisome.
Despite all of that, the consensus around the league is that Freeman will remain in Atlanta. I would still put the odds at about 85% that he returns, but in his recent piece for The Athletic (subscriptions required to read), MLB insider Ken Rosenthal breaks down the gamble the Braves are taking this offseason with the face of their franchise.
*The Braves’ gamble with Freeman
*Reasons for Rangers’ push
*Question over Semien’s price
*Why Cobb is appealing
*Issue for Mets with certain FAs
*Sign with Rays, revive your career
*LH relief markethttps://t.co/FuPJPbDhzU
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 23, 2021
Rosenthal confirms that Freeman did reject the five-year, $135 million offer that was originally reported, but then he dives into the truth that Braves fans probably don’t want to hear.
There are three teams in massive markets with first base openings.
The Yankees are the obvious ones. With Rizzo also hitting unrestricted free agency, Freeman is the noticeable upgrade, and as much as I hate to say it, he would look damn good in pinstripes. Thankfully, the Yankees are more interested in the shortstop market, hoping to land the likes of Carlos Correa or Corey Seager. However, if they are priced out of those negotiations, a pivot to Freeman makes too much sense, which is the last thing the Braves want to see.
However, while New York may have shortstop as their top priority, their AL East foe — the Boston Red Sox — do not. Kyle Schwarber is a free agent, and even if the Sox do bring him back, they could still sign Freeman as an upgrade at first base. After a surprising run to the ALCS, adding a superstar like Freeman could make the Sox a legitimate threat to win the World Series.
Finally, the Braves could also have to compete with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Like the Yankees, the Dodgers are more focused on the shortstop market at the moment, but their pockets are endless, and what better way to assert their dominance on the National League than by poaching the best player of their biggest threat? It would be a nightmare situation for the Braves, but this is the risk Anthopoulos is taking by not giving into Freeman’s demands.
As Rosenthal acknowledges several times, don’t expect anything significant to happen anytime soon. Until a new CBA is signed, the major dominos of free agency will likely remain unsigned. There will be plenty of rumors between now and then, but stay strong Braves country; I still believe this will end in our favor.