Whether the public gets the truth or not, at this very moment it’s assumed the Atlanta Braves really didn’t go the extra mile to keep Freddie Freeman in town, which resulted in his defection to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Freeman himself revealed how the communication between the two sides was infrequent and that he learned of the trade for Matt Olson when it happened … just like the rest of us. Additionally, reports suggested the Braves’ offer maxed out at five years and $140 million. As noted time and time again, Freeman was looking for a sixth year in his final big payday.
So who’s fault was it, really? ESPN’s Buster Olney (subscription required) did a deep dive on how everything unfolded and it really seems like the Braves walked a hard line in what they were willing to offer and that was that. Freeman, who just captured a World Series and won MVP in 2020 was asking for an additional year or $25 million more.
The Braves rejected both desires from Freeman’s camp and only moved slightly, from $130 million to $135 million and then finally $140 million … but then turned around and gutted the top end of their farm system to acquire Matt Olson, who was then given a $168 million extension over eight years.
Braves legend Chipper Jones went as far to call out Freeman and his representation over everything, but that criticism really feels misguided and misplaced.
Braves legend called out Freddie Freeman for signing with Dodgers
"“I don’t know the interactions between Alex and Excel [Freeman’s agency]. But somewhere in there was miscommunication, lack of communication, something…“From my conversations with Freddie, he wanted to stay.“I do not agree with the way that this was handled on Freddie’s side. If you want to play in Atlanta, you play in Atlanta. You maybe take a little less to be happy and play in a place that is comfortable for you.”"
Jones might’ve taken less nearly 15 years ago, but this isn’t the same game. Also, the Braves have shown little inclination to spend big and add considerable talent after their major profits from 2021. Their big offseason expenditures remain Olson, which was a necessary deal to replace Freeman, Kenley Jansen on a one-year, $16 million contract, Collin McHugh on a two-year, $10 million contract, and Eddie Rosario, which was a re-signing, at two years and $18 million.
Is that what we’d call “spending to acquire more talent” if Freeman were to have taken a discount? Because the Braves essentially got that discount with Olson, who will only be making $15 million against the luxury tax in 2022.
So is it really a wonder why Freeman took almost the exact same money to play with a better roster? If your hometown team isn’t willing to go the extra mile to show their respect for you — after making just $120 million over 12 seasons with the Braves — then why would he reciprocate by re-signing and running it back with a roster that actually lost a few key figures in Joc Pederson and Jorge Soler?
Chipper Jones obviously has the right to his own opinion, but this is a different game in 2022. Franchise profits are at an all-time high and the burden shouldn’t be on the best players in the game to “make a sacrifice” to take less money for the greater good. Atlanta made its profits over the last year and have been to the postseason four straight years. The organization could’ve shelled out another year and a few more million to keep the status quo and ensure a potential future Hall of Famer didn’t go to an NL rival.