Freddie Freeman was surprisingly not among the group of players who signed a new contract prior to the MLB lockout beginning in December, which makes him one of the top free agents now that business has resumed with a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) in place.
It was expected that the Atlanta Braves would quickly sign Freeman to a new contract, but they reportedly didn’t even make him an offer as they were in a disagreement over including a sixth year in the deal.
The 2020 National League MVP remaining on the open market fueled speculation he could potentially wind up signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers or New York Yankees. The Boston Red Sox, San Diego Padres, Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays have been mentioned as suitors as well.
The Dodgers, who are in need of a left-handed bat to replace Corey Seager, are one of the most logical landing spots for the Southern California native. However, they may not be willing to offer a long-term contract for the 32-year-old, ESPN’s Buster Olney recently explained on the “Mason & Ireland” show:
“The question among agents is whether or not Andrew Friedman would invest a big, long-term contract in a first baseman. The feedback I got was no, they wouldn’t. But, if it were a shorter team deal, like a four-year deal versus an eight-year deal or nine-year deal, like a four-year, $140 million deal — $35 million a year — maybe that’s the deal that pries Freddie Freeman away from the Braves. Here’s the thing, the Braves, because of their intransigence in the negotiations, they have turned this into a competition and that’s part of the reason why people believe there’s a real chance Freddie is going to leave Atlanta.”
Amid a report of the San Diego Padres having interest in signing Freeman, the Dodgers made a four-year contract offer with a high average annual value, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today:
It may be a defensive mechanism considering the rival Los Angeles Dodgers are heavily involved in the talks, offering what is believed to be a four-year deal with a high average salary, but the Padres are quite serious in their intentions.
It had been assumed other teams would need to offer an extra year or significantly more money to get Freeman to leave Atlanta, but the Braves made a preemptive move on Monday by completing a blockbuster trade with the Oakland Athletics to acquire Matt Olson.
Meanwhile, the Yankees re-signed Anthony Rizzo and seemingly fell out of the Freeman sweepstakes. As for the Blue Jays, they completed a trade Wednesday morning to acquire Matt Chapman.
It’s unclear if the remaining teams with interest in Freeman have potentially changed their stance in contract negotiations now that the Braves are no longer considered an option.
Dodgers players hopeful for Freeman
Soon after Seager signed a 10-year, $325 million contract with the Texas Rangers, multiple Dodgers players relayed their interest in Freeman. Since then, Max Muncy has volunteered to switch to second base, and Cody Bellinger and Clayton Kershaw have been among those to speak highly of Freeman during Spring Training.
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