The stove isn't too hot yet, but it is officially the MLB offseason — at least until a possible lockout next month — as all 30 clubs gathered for the GM Meetings this week. One of the free agents on everybody's mind is Freddie Freeman, who has played all 1,565 games of his career for the Atlanta Braves and finally brought Atlanta its first World Series title since 1995 this season.
According to Bob Nightengale, Freeman rejected a five-year, $135 million deal from the Braves.
USA Today — Free agent Freddie Freeman was on the mind of every team seeking a first baseman, with Freeman rejecting Atlanta’s five-year, $135 million offer, and seeking closer to a six-year, $200 million deal. Yet, you couldn’t find a soul who believes Freeman won’t be returning to Atlanta.
If Freeman and the Braves are only a year and $6 million AAV apart, it stands to reason that surely they'll be able to get something done. My main hang-up is Atlanta's front office and its documented refusal to go a dollar above what it has deemed a player to be worth. We've seen it with Josh Donaldson, Adam Duvall and probably would have seen it with Marcell Ozuna if he didn't realize in February that his market wasn't as good as he thought it was.
Now obviously, Freeman is not any of those guys. He's a future Hall of Famer who has been the face of the franchise since Chipper Jones retired and still projects to be a very productive player well into the next contract he signs. So it looks like this may very well come down to whether or not the Braves are willing to disregard their organizational philosophy and spend some extra money to keep a fan favorite around. Also, does winning a title now make it more or less likely that Atlanta tries its hardest to keep Freddie? I'm honestly not sure.
Regardless of whether it comes from the Braves or another franchise, Freeman will likely get what he's asking for. Six years and $200 million isn't an egregious demand for a player of his caliber, even if that sixth year will be Freeman's age-37 season. You're paying for those first four years with the understanding the last two probably won't be as great, anyway.
Only time will tell whether Freeman stays in Atlanta or potentially plays his first game in another uniform.