The dust from the whole Freddie Freeman-Atlanta Braves contract drama is in the process of settling … but what if it doesn’t?
The Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman tried to put it all to rest, but his commentary wasn’t all that convincing. On top of that, a seemingly disingenuous “report” from FOX Sports’ Doug Gottlieb has kept the train rolling.
He claimed that Freeman’s former agent, Casey Close of Excel Sports Management, never told his client about a contract offer from that Braves that Freeman likely would’ve accepted, and that Freeman found out about it last weekend, which prompted him to fire Close and become self-represented.
Close has denied that allegation and has threatened legal action as a result of the accusation making its rounds in the media space. That’s a big reason this isn’t going away anytime soon.
Then you have Freeman’s words and actions, which just don’t align with his supposed willingness to “move on.” Here’s what Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic wrote on Wednesday (subscription required):
"“Freeman, 32, finally seems to understand he needs to move on, telling reporters Tuesday, ‘there needs to be closure,’ after telling me in an interview for Fox Sports on Saturday, ‘I’m not looking to have any closure. I don’t want to close something that was so special to me for 15 years.'”"
What’s the solution for the Dodgers, Braves and Freddie Freeman?
Is Freeman the guy fans think he is? After all, this kind of drama doesn’t simply appear out of nowhere. It typically requires multiple parties acting in inconsistent, erratic ways. Additionally, don’t forget about the comments Ronald Acuña Jr. made about Freeman being a bad clubhouse guy! Whether true or not, it plays a role in the story.
So, what if this situation doesn’t improve? What if Freddie’s lonesome photo on the Dodgers’ bench on Sunday night in Atlanta really does represent his feelings about being in LA? We can argue it doesn’t all we want, but we don’t know the truth. Nobody does except Freeman.
Could … trading Freeman for Olson do the trick? A rip-the-Band-Aid off solution that pretty much helps everybody (except, apparently, Acuña)?
Freeman is having a better year than Olson, but Olson’s age and trajectory over the next eight years likely projects better than Freeman’s path because he’s four years younger. Then again, it’s hard to argue this would be a “loss” for anybody.
Freeman returning home possesses value both on and off the field. He never wanted to leave, apparently. The Braves didn’t want him to leave. The fans didn’t want him to leave! Did you not see the reception last weekend?
As for the Dodgers, getting Olson for the next eight seasons at a cheaper AAV might better align with Mookie Betts’ tenure in LA (Freeman is signed through 2027, and Olson is signed through 2029 with an option for 2030).
This is a fun thought exercise — one that will specifically anger Dodgers fans since they’re apt to get mad at just about anything that disrupts any sort of status quo — but that’s about it. There’s been some chatter about it on Twitter, but Rosenthal once again provided insight regarding the Braves’ role in the offseason negotiations:
"“My belief — and the belief of a number of agents and executives in baseball — is that Anthopoulos preferred the matter to play out precisely how it did, with the Braves trading for a younger, cheaper reasonable facsimile of Freeman, Matt Olson. Is Olson as good as Freeman right now? Probably not. But his eight-year, $168 million contract covers his age 28 to 35 seasons. Freeman’s deal with the Dodgers covers his age 32 to 37 campaigns.”"
Maybe Freeman went scorched earth when he realized last weekend that the Braves were ready and willing to move on and his agency couldn’t convince them otherwise, only to watch the only team he’s known for 15 years find an (arguably) equally talented first baseman to take his place.
Again, Dodgers fans will likely never know, but this isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, especially if Freeman continues to try and swat reporters away with commentary that won’t shut the door.