According to a person familiar with the situation, The Braves offered Freeman a five-year deal worth $140 million. In the end, they pivoted and traded for Olson, who quickly gave him an eight-year contract worth $168 million.
Freeman is a brave legend. His decision does not change that.
He won the world championship with the club. Awarded NL MVP. He has been awarded a Silver Slugger three times and has a Golden Glove.
Over 1,565 games with the club, he has made .295 and scored 893 games on base as well as a slowdown percentage. He collected 1,704 scores and fired 271 home runs.
It will never be forgotten.
But the brave still have to be rivals, which means that life must go on without Freeman.
Since the Braves players reported spring training on Sunday, they’ve spoken publicly about wanting the best for Freeman. They miss it, but they know this is a business. They understood that he had come to free agency and considered that anything was possible.
The brave also entered the camp with one goal: to repeat the world champions. But to do that, they will likely need to go through Dodgers again.
This time, they will have a new Senior Officer. The brave will know well. And because the Braves are talented from top to bottom, the Dodgers might be better.
“They’ve always had great players,” said Braves’ Adam Duvall. “Obviously when you add the kind of guys like Freddy, you’ll improve. But we’re just focusing on the guys we’ve got here. Seeing him leave the team is tough because there’s been something great about playing for one team throughout your career, and as a baseball fan, it was great to see him.”
Do not count on the brave, who set themselves to compete again. Anthopoulos made the difficult decision to switch from Freeman – it wasn’t easy – but he could be good for his club now and in the future.
Here’s why: Olson’s average annual contract value is $21 million, while Freeman’s deal is worth $27 million. Olson is about 5 years younger than Freeman and his contract is longer.
The Braves got a younger player cheaper for longer.
Additionally, Olson, a student of Parkview High alum, is one of the game’s best base players and could offer a production similar to Freeman. (And, like Freeman, he’s a left-handed bat.) The point: While losing Freeman might have hurt, the Braves couldn’t have replaced him with anyone better, especially if that decision offered them more financial flexibility in the future.
It may take a while for everyone’s shock value to wear off. For the first time since his debut in 2010, Freeman will not be wearing the Braves costume. He would face Max Fried and Ian Anderson rather than being in the same club with them. He’ll see Ronald Acuna Jr. at first base and not in the bunker.
The truth is that the Braves started moving forward mentally a couple of days ago when they acquired Olson. They knew it meant Freeman wouldn’t come back and that they would need to hit their targets without his star racket, glove, and field presence. For days, Director Brian Snitker insisted that he and his men only focus on who’s in camp.
The Dodgers play early in the season in Los Angeles on April 18-20. The Dodgers are coming to Atlanta for three games on June 24 and 26. The third game, aptly, is specific to Sunday graduates.
As Freeman’s free agency status has progressed over the past few days, he’s been receiving interest from teams including the Yankees, Red Sox and Rice. All three might be better options than Dodgers if you’re a Braves fan who still wants root access for it.
Instead, he went to another competitor in the National League. If the Braves will flirt with their goals this season, they will almost certainly face Freeman and his new team.
“They stack,” said Darno, who grew up in Los Angeles. “They’ve got a good pitch, a good lead. But it’s a dodger. They’ve been that way for the last six or seven years. I think the city expects excellence from all of its sports teams.”