Will the New York Yankees translate their supposed genuine interest in Freddie Freeman — as trumpeted by Jon Heyman daily — into a serious pursuit whenever the lockout is lifted? Unclear. Sure hope so. Would certainly be a welcome addition.
But will their chase, which is sure to reach the neighborhood of six years and $180 million, be derailed by the thriftiest spender on the east coast?
No, not the Orioles. No, not the Marlins. No, not the Braves — OK, you know what? Probably bad for baseball that there were so many reasonable answers to that prompt.
We’re talking about the Tampa Bay Rays who, according to Heyman’s sources, made an offer to Freeman’s camp before talks shut down prior to the Dec. 1 lockout.
More encouraging in Heyman’s reporting? The idea that the Yankees aren’t just interested but, in fact, are “very” interested, ranking above the Dodgers and Blue Jays in his unofficial hierarchy (it would seem).
Of course, things could always go off the rails if Freeman uses the rest of the lockout to reconsider Tampa’s one-year, $15 million offer.
Yankees Rumors: “Very Interested” in Freddie Freeman, so are the … Rays?
All kidding aside, the Rays’ interest in Freeman — in any capacity — should be validating for the Yankees. That team refuses to commit long-term money, and if they even checked in on Freeman, it should be seen as a tacit endorsement of his viability for the next five or six years.
The Yankees, who absolutely love to copy the Rays, should take note. Even if Year 6 goes sour, Freeman is still a player who smart teams with money should want to be associated with.
The Dodgers, in our estimation, are still the most viable threat. Freeman’s a Californian, and Max Muncy’s not-so-subtle hints about preferring to play second base anyway feel like the slugger rolling out a red carpet for Freeman’s arrival.
If New York wants to translate their interest into reality, they’ll have to hope that Freeman prefers long-term security over a short-term windfall, the exact type of contract he was rumored to be chasing a few weeks back.
The Yankees love to offer an extra year to lower their AAV commitment, which would make them uniquely poised to outbid the Braves, a team that’s stuck on five years — the reason they’re on the verge of losing their homegrown MVP.
For now, take the Rays’ rumored interest as a sign the Yankees are barking up the right tree and nothing more.