The Braves have a lot of holes to fill, and they’ll have plenty of time to think about them during this lengthy lockout, but no decision is bigger for them than their opening at first base. Re-signing Freddie Freeman is the obvious answer, but the Braves have also reportedly been in contact with the A’s regarding their All-Star first baseman Matt Olson as a contingency plan.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic recently broke down the situation between the two and the Braves, and while he didn’t reveal a ton of new information, there were a few things that I felt worth sharing. Most notably, Rosenthal confirmed that Freeman returning to Atlanta is no longer a slam dunk, and he even quoted a rival executive that said the fact that Freeman remains unsigned is a “slap in the face.”
I can’t say I disagree. No matter how you slice it, the Braves have completely messed this situation up. This is an ordeal that should have been put to bed a year ago at the latest. Now, even if the Braves retain Freeman, he’s going to cost significantly more than he would have. Freeman has every right to be pissed off. Over the last six seasons, he has five top-ten finishes in the NL MVP race, including one NL MVP and a World Series trophy, and that’s on top of being the undisputed leader in the clubhouse and face of the franchise. For this to not be resolved by now, especially since he desires to stay in Atlanta, is more than a bit disgraceful.
On the Olson side of things, Rosenthal says the A’s first baseman will probably be the Braves’ top option if Freeman were to sign elsewhere. Still, a deal won’t be easy to complete, especially if Freeman signs with another team first. Oakland would have all the leverage, which means the Braves would have to part ways with several top prospects. Might it be worth it? Maybe, but Freddie Freeman is a pretty damn good option, and the Braves don’t have to part ways with any prospects to retain him.