The expectation all along was that he would quickly sign a new deal that would keep him in Atlanta for the rest of his career.
He is a fan favorite, he remains one of the most productive hitters in MLB, and he has expressed his desire to stay long-term.
Yet Freeman and the Braves haven’t been able to hammer out a new agreement.
They weren’t able to come to terms before the lockout, which means that teams with money to spend that are desperate to save the offseason will approach him with juicy offers.
The Braves have been building from within lately, and when they extend homegrown stars, they tend to approach them early in their careers when they could be signed affordably.
But now, however, Freeman may have priced himself out of the Braves’ range, which would actually say more about the organization.
Not Re-Signing Freeman Would Be A Huge Mistake
Failing to lock Freeman in for the long haul would be a big mistake.
And no, Freeman is not a lock to return to Atlanta.
There may be some differences in the length of the contract between the two parties, but if that’s really the case, Atlanta should bite the bullet and secure the signature of their franchise player.
If the Braves aren’t able to reach an agreement with Freeman, there are a few teams out there willing to give the man what he wants.
The New York Yankees are in need of a first base upgrade because Luke Voit is injury-prone and subpar defensively, even if he is a very good offensive player.
The Los Angeles Dodgers have money to spend and will surely be willing to consider adding Freeman, for example.
Teams are trying to pry superstar 1B Freddie Freeman from Atlanta. Some say they still don’t think it will happen but r surprised he’s still free. Dodgers, who lost Seager and could move Muncy to 2B, may have best hope for SoCal product, NYY, TOR (h/t Carlos Baerga) reached out.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 30, 2021
And Atlanta is starting to do its homework in case Freeman ends up signing elsewhere.
According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the Braves have checked in with the Oakland Athletics about first baseman Matt Olson, in case they need to replace Freeman.
Braves have checked in on A’s star 1B Matt Olson, presumably as a contingency plan in case Freddie Freeman leaves via free agency. Most still have a hard time envisioning Freeman in any other uniform but Braves want to be prepared.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 1, 2021
Additionally, the Braves reportedly considered the possibility of signing Anthony Rizzo before the lockout.
An Elite Performer
Not only is Freeman the soul of a team that was recently crowned as a World Series champion, but he remains an elite offensive performer, as well.
In 2021, Freeman hit .300/.393/.503 with 31 home runs, 120 runs scored, and 83 RBI.
According to the wRC+ offensive metric (which means weighted Runs Created Plus), he was 35 percent better than the average.
He was equally great in the postseason and helped the Braves lift their first Fall Classic trophy since 1995.
Freeman was even better in 2020, in a smaller sample size given the pandemic-shortened schedule.
That year, he hit .341/.462/.640 with 13 home runs and 53 RBI in 60 games, winning National League MVP honors.
With the potential of a higher luxury tax after the lockout, teams could have more money to spend when transactions are allowed again.
This can bring more competition for the Braves at the time of signing Freeman.
By no means is he a lock to return to the Braves, although it remains the most likely scenario.NEXT: 3 Free Agents Braves Should Target This Offseason