According to ESPN insider Buster Olney, there is a ‘growing belief’ that Freeman will not return to the Braves for the 2022 season and beyond.
— B/R Walk-Off (@BRWalkoff) February 22, 2022
The Braves were always seen as the clear favorites to re-sign Freeman during the offseason, but it was more of a popular belief that he would be a Brave for life rather than Atlanta showing clear intentions of securing his services on a new, long-term contract.
He is said to be seeking a six-year, $180 million contract, and he has done a lot of things for Atlanta to deserve it.
However, the Braves are not thrilled about paying a 32-year-old first baseman around $200 million until he is 38.
The Braves Can’t Just Rule Out Freeman So Easily
It’s an understandable stand, for sure, but Freeman means so much to fans that the Braves failing to re-sign him would be a clear mistake.
If the Braves don’t want him, there will surely be a market for him: the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Yankees have showed interest in the lefty-hitting slugger in recent months, before the lockout, and both could accommodate him financially and on the field.
Despite being on the wrong side of 30, Freeman remains a highly productive hitter.
In 2021, he slashed .300/.393/.503 with 31 home runs and 120 runs scored, despite a sluggish start.
He accumulated 4.5 Wins Above Replacement (WAR).
He was the National League MVP in 2020 and led his team to its first World Series title since 1995 in 2021.
The Braves can’t be ruled out as the final destination for Freeman, but the chances of a return don’t look good now.