The Atlanta Braves' season ended Tuesday night.
After series wins over the first-place Mets and the Marlins last week — the latter of which finished with a thrilling comeback win from down four runs in the ninth inning — the Braves were just 3.5 games out of first place at 41-42 and had their last six games before the All-Star break against the lowly Pirates and Miami again. And just when it finally looked like Atlanta may have turned a corner and found something, it lost the first two games in Pittsburgh and scored a grand total of two runs in those games.
The Braves have not been above .500 at any point this season. They're five games behind the Mets, but would be 9.5 games out of first place in the NL Central and 14 back in the West. It just ain't gonna happen this year.
So after last night's unofficial end to the 2021 season, I decided to release a take I've been sitting on for a while: the Braves need to trade Freddie Freeman.
Just typing that causes me physical pain. Freddie has been the cornerstone of this franchise for a decade, has won an MVP and is simply one of the best people you're going to find anywhere in sports.
But I think many Braves fans are making far too many assumptions about him coming back next year no matter what. There has been no word from the team or Freeman about being anywhere close to a contract extension. Chipper Jones — who's now a hitting consultant for Atlanta and is one of Freeman's best friends dating back to their days as teammates — recently went on a podcast and didn't exactly make it sound ironclad that Freddie would be back.
And other than that, there hasn't really been any news from either side about a new contract. And Freeman is as drama-free as any professional athlete could possibly be. I believe if he had an offer from the Braves that he felt good about, he would have already signed it to avoid this ever becoming a story in the first place.
This is obviously contingent upon there being a great offer out there, too. You don't trade your franchise player, whether you think you can re-sign him or not, if there isn't an offer worthy of doing so. But if a team like the Red Sox thinks Freeman makes them the World Series favorite and goes all in, it's something the Braves need to be open to.
But just the fact that this is a real discussion sucks. Nobody expected Atlanta to be in this bad of a position before the All-Star Game. Nobody wants to see Freddie Freeman play for another team, whether he's dealt at the deadline or leaves at the end of the season. Yet, here we are.
My first choice would be the Braves winning these last four games before the break and hopefully figuring something out after a few days to reset. But if that doesn't happen, nothing should be off the table.