The first baseman is entering free agency at quite possibly his most potent point, one year removed from an MVP peak and fresh off delivering a title to the starved Atlanta fan base, proving he can do that, too.
Quite a few impediments remain before the Dodgers will get a chance to bring Freeman back home, but at the very least, the Southern city currently left in the lurch is beginning to agree they might’ve screwed up here.
Whether it’s losing him altogether or simply having to outbid behemoths that weren’t in the market prior to 2021, Atlanta has created unnecessary problems for themselves by waiting a full year, winning a ring, then waiting an additional month before all conversations between player and team were legally ceased.
The Yankees and Dodgers are waiting too, sure. But they’re also plotting.
Will Dodgers take advantage of Braves regrets and sign Freddie Freeman?
Just because Atlanta will likely regret their unnecessary, year-long display of patience does not mean the Dodgers can step right in and close a deal.
In fact, the No. 1 reason to hope in Atlanta right now isn’t because of anything their front office has done, but rather the lack of a perfect fit elsewhere — even in LA.
The Dodgers would have to clear a number of roadblocks to make the pursuit viable. If Max Muncy is healthy, he’s done nothing to deserve losing his starting first baseman job; Muncy was likely the star-studded 2021 team’s MVP, and their offense torpedoed when he was injured late in the regular season. Convincing Muncy to take DH reps — as long as the DH is installed, as expected — could be an uphill battle.
So could importing a six-year commitment to a hefty payroll to add to a position of strength rather than fill a position of need (Max Scherzer’s vacancy, Corey Seager’s shortstop hole, etc.). If the Dodgers have to choose between paying Trea Turner and giving Freeman six years, Turner is a more logical target.
They don’t have to choose between those two things, and their finances can stretch endlessly, but that’s never been how baseball’s worked and it’s not changing now. Even in LA, there’s a budget.
O’Brien chimed in later to respond to a fan who, somewhat desperately, asked if there was still a realistic chance Freeman would not be coming back for the next five (no) or six (maybe) years.
The writer didn’t hesitate.
Things shifted with Freeman’s triumphant postseason. They changed spots throughout 2021.
And they certainly shuffled once the lockout began, the Freeman suitors failed to complete any sort of Matt Olson trade with the A’s, and the Yankees and Dodgers perhaps realized they had plenty of money to spend and precious few places left to spend it.