After helping the Atlanta Braves win the World Series, Freddie Freeman became a free agent for the first time in his 12-year MLB career.
It was widely expected the sides would quickly work out a new contract, but that never happened due to a reported disagreement over the inclusion of a sixth year. When business resumed earlier this month, the Braves and Freeman were said to have reopened contract negotiations.
After once again failing to make progress, the organization decided to go in a different direction by acquiring All-Star first baseman Matt Olson from the Oakland Athletics.
That all but ensured Freeman would be playing elsewhere this season. He drew significant interest from multiple teams before eventually signing a six-year, $162 million contract with his hometown Los Angeles Dodgers.
Braves president of baseball operations and general manager Alex Anthopoulos was noticeably emotional when discussing Freeman’s departure last week and insisted his tears were real, via Jorge Castillo of the L.A. Times:
“At the end of the day, he’s going to be a Brave forever,” said Anthopoulos, who worked in the Dodgers’ front office for two years before joining the Braves in November 2017. “It’s a wave of emotions. Just like he said. Everyone’s human. You have a wave of emotions. You’re not human if you don’t have emotion, right?
“It’s a sad day, no matter how you slice it up. For our clubhouse, for our fans, for me personally. And that’s being human and that’s just the reality of it. And you can’t be with someone for four years and grow close to them and go through what we’ve been through together and not have emotions.”
When asked about Anthopoulos’ tears, Freeman only answered, “I saw ’em. That’s all I’ll say.”
The notion that Freeman would no longer be part of the Braves franchise was difficult to envision ever becoming a reality. However, that perception began to change — particularly for Freeman — over the past year and especially during free agency.
“The communication wasn’t all there in the offseason. I got two phone calls all offseason; I got more from Andrew to my agents in a matter of a couple hours. I didn’t know what was going on,” Freeman said during his introductory press conference with the Dodgers.
“I got one call the day before the lockout, of checking in. And I got one call when the lockout was lifted, just checking in. So I don’t know how to interpret that, but that’s just the reality of what was going on.
“So when the Dodgers and other teams expressed interest and wanted to communicate and wanted to get me, that was huge for me. Once the lockout lifted and my agents and Andrew connected, things just started moving quicker.”
Turner gets ‘assist’ from Freeman for signing with Dodgers
Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and manager Dave Roberts led the push for Freeman over the course of the offseason, but Justin Turner was also quite involved in the recruiting process.
“We’ve got to give an assist to Justin Turner,” Freeman said. “His name popped up on my phone quite a bit throughout this whole process.”
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