What was once considered a pipe dream is becoming … more realistic by the day? Though we won’t know for sure until Rob Manfred decides to end the lockout he decided to impose, we can hold out hope about the New York Yankees’ chances of signing Freddie Freeman.
The Atlanta Braves free agent didn’t come to an agreement with the organization that drafted him shortly after capturing a World Series victory and the two sides had a month (and all of last season) to figure it out.
Why he wasn’t handed a blank check, we’ll never know, but if his exposure in free agency is going to be legitimate post-lockout, reports have suggested the Yankees are expected to be involved after it was rumored they had contacted his representation before the CBA expired.
Still, many believed the most likely outcome, despite the apparent disconnect, would be Freeman returning to Atlanta, where he’s spent 12 seasons and built a resume as the game’s best first baseman.
But the time apart since Dec. 2 has apparently created more speculation that Freeman might land elsewhere when the free agent rush occurs.
The slugger’s reported contract desire is in the six-year, $180 million range, and you’d have to think it could get closer to $200 million if teams like the Yankees and Dodgers are involved. It seems the Braves aren’t jumping to cough that up, and it’s now created a situation where Freeman leaving wouldn’t exactly be considered “shocking” anymore.
Can the Yankees take advantage of Freddie Freeman’s situation with the Braves?
Here’s what Rosenthal said in a recent piece for The Athletic (subscription required):
"“Our longstanding assumption — ah, they’ll just work it out — no longer applies. The Braves and Freeman didn’t work it out last spring, last summer or in November with the lockout looming. They still might work it out, considering that an agreement remains the most sensible outcome. But rest assured, both sides are weighing their options. It would not be a surprise for either, once business resumes, to act quickly.”"
Not to mention, it’s now been reported/speculated multiple times that the Braves may view Matt Olson as a viable Freeman replacement. The Oakland A’s star is on the trade block, is 4.5 years younger than Freeman, and will make only $12 million in 2022. The Braves have a deep enough farm system to entice the A’s and apparently spoke to Oakland about a possible framework before the lockout.
The Braves are at a disadvantage because negotiating will be sparse when transactions are permitted once again. Players will be quickly looking to sign, maximize their profits, and ensure they have a stable situation after so much uncertainly (for however long it’ll be at that point).
This is Freeman’s last chance at a big payday and he knows he can get what he wants after what he just accomplished. If the Yankees are serious about leaving shortstop available for one of their top prospects, they’re going to need to upgrade in a game-changing manner elsewhere, and this would be the opportunity to do so.