One week after the MLB lockout ended in March, Freddie Freeman signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers to mark the end of an era as a pillar of the Atlanta Braves franchise.
After the Braves reportedly refused to extend their contract offer to include a sixth year, Freeman shifted his view to teams willing to make that commitment. In stepped the Dodgers who were in need of a left-handed bat and understood they had to make a run at one of the best hitters in the past 15 years.
Now Freeman is returning to Atlanta for the first time since leaving the Braves in free agency. Friday’s series opener at Truist Park will see Freeman receive his 2021 Braves World Series ring.
Braves players already had their championship hardware when they visited Dodger Stadium in April, but Freeman made sure to avoid so much as glancing at it.
“Rob Smith was wearing it and I said, ‘Take it off. I don’t want to see it.’ I’ve seen it obviously in pictures and videos and all that, but first time I want to see in person is going on my finger,” Freeman explained.
“So we we put a lot of work and a lot of hard work went into winning that last year and a lot of years over the last decade went into that. So I want to be able to see it for the first time in person.”
Freeman’s best postseason came during Atlanta’s World Series run, when he hit .304/.420/.625, with five home runs and 11 RBI.
In Freeman’s time in L.A. thus far, he has already continued to show much of the hitter he was with the Braves for 12 seasons.
Freeman has a .298 batting average with six home runs and 40 RBI and an on-base plus slugging percentage of .855 through 66 games. He currently ranks in the 94th percentile in both xBA and xWOBA and still remains one of the league’s best hitters despite a recent lull.
However, Freeman has a .913 OPS and in his last seven games.
Freeman, Anthopoulos repaired relationship
During an introductory press conference with the Dodgers, Freeman expressed love and gratitude for the city of Atlanta but was hesitant to discuss conversations with Braves president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos.
After the Braves visited L.A. in mid-April, Freeman explained both he and Anthopoulos walked away from their conversations with solid understanding.
“That our relationship was good. That’s that was the key thing. We spent so much time together the last four years, working to win to win a World Series, and we were able to accomplish that,” said Freeman.
“Obviously, with the lockout and all that, and not being able to talk and free agency, just to be able to talk to him again and make sure our relationship was good. That’s what it was all about. Because when I walked into the dugout, we got to have a huge hug. That’s what I wanted, and I think that’s what I think he wanted too.
“Obviously we’re on different sides now, but the friendship is strong.”
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