Whenever MLB owners lift the lockout (it could be days or months, so we have no clue if it’s going to happen soon), teams will go back to the free agent market to try and improve their rosters.
There was a lot of activity before the lockout, which kind of served as a soft deadline because some organizations wanted to secure their players amid the uncertainty that the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) negotiations represent.
But there are still some solid free agents left: Trevor Story, Clayton Kershaw, Kenley Jansen, Carlos Rodon, and Kris Bryant are among the best.
Carlos Correa and Freddie Freeman, however, are perhaps the two best players available for just money when things pick up.
Who is going to command the larger contract?
Freeman Is About To Get Paid
For years, Freeman has anchored the Atlanta Braves’ lineup.
He has been a fixture there since 2011, and in the process, he has won Gold Gloves, Silver Slugger awards, All-Star berths, and the MVP award in 2020.
Most importantly, he was huge in 2021, as the Braves won the Fall Classic against the Houston Astros.
It’s somewhat surprising that the Braves haven’t re-signed him by now: he reportedly wants $180 million for six years.
At 32, Freeman remains a top hitter in MLB, evidenced by his .300/.393/.503 line, 31 homers, 120 runs scored, 83 RBI, and 4.5 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) in 2021.
Atlanta doesn’t want such a long commitment, though, and the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers are ready to pounce if the Braves fall asleep.
Obviously, $180 million ($30 per year) is a huge financial commitment, especially for a 32-year-old first baseman, but Freeman has done more than enough to earn it.
So 6-years, $180 million for Freddie Freeman? $30 million/year.
You mean to tell me the Braves can’t get that done? Come on.
— Gary Sheffield Jr. (@GarysheffieldJr) November 30, 2021
Correa Still Wants To Surpass $300 Million
Correa, on the other hand, is likely to get even more money.
Reports are he wants to top Corey Seager’s contract with the Texas Rangers (10 years, $325 million).
Carlos Correa’s position before the lockout (or agent switch) was that he wanted $330M to $350M. But $330M was the clear minimum ask. Will still be interesting to see if he can beat Corey Seager’s $325M deal.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 19, 2022
Correa is the slightly better player between the two, but there are no clues about the market dynamics post-lockout.
He may very well surpass $300 million and could even get his goal of earning more than Seager, but it’s not a given.
There will be several teams looking for his services, though.
After all, he was brilliant in 2021, slashing .279/.366/.485 with 26 homers, 104 runs, 92 RBI, and 5.8 WAR.
Freeman has been a considerably better hitter than Correa over the course of his career, but they were similar in 2021 and the former Astros shortstop is elite with the glove at a premium position.
The same can’t be said about Freeman.
Additionally, Correa is much younger than Freeman, at 27.
Being five years younger, a much better defender, and a similar, perhaps a bit worse, hitter than Freeman, Correa will earn a better contract.
Chances are that Freeman’s deal will fall short compared to Correa’s in both average annual value (AAV) and total dollar commitment.
Among the players still on the market, Correa and Freeman will likely sign the biggest contracts, although there is a chance that Bryant’s pact is larger than Freeman’s.
We will find out in a few weeks…or months.NEXT: Does Jimmy Rollins Belong In The Hall Of Fame?