Thank goodness for the Atlanta Braves' lack of foresight (or overall stubbornness). Thank goodness for the remainder of MLB teams not jumping in on the bidding last offseason. Because who knows where the Los Angeles Dodgers would be right now without Freddie Freeman.
Freeman's presence has allowed the team to move on from stars like Trea Turner, as well as franchise icons Corey Seager, Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger. Imagine if the Dodgers made all of those decisions with only Mookie Betts as the lone perennial All-Star? It'd be that much worse.
Freeman's relentless bat and steadfast defense aren't all he brings to the table, though. He was signed to a six-year, $162 million contract to provide an influential veteran voice in a locker room that was apparently set to lose most of them (not to mention, Clayton Kershaw could be on the way out after 2023, too).
The slugging first baseman has delivered on that responsibility, too, in a way more fans need to realize. The Dodgers, a team constantly in the spotlight with the highest of expectations, are faced with pressure at every turn, which some might attribute to their far-too-many early playoff exits and World Series failures.
Heading into a 2023 season in which the stakes are a bit lower, Freeman's provided a dialogue that will come in handy when the Dodgers are right back on top, which shouldn't be too far from now -- whether it's this year, in the event they exceed expectations, or next year, if they sign Shohei Ohtani.
Freddie Freeman has perfect quote about Dodgers' 2023 season
Between Freeman and Mookie Betts, how can any rival legitimately hate these guys? Think about how unlikeable current Dodgers rivals Manny Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Madison Bumgarner are. They're irritable without even opening their mouths, in fact.
Freeman, when asked some tough questions about the Padres out-spending the Dodgers, as well as LA's expectations after losing so many key players from their historic 111-win season, couldn't have been more collected ... and complimentary!
Loves the Padres aggression. Thinks baseball is better for it. Acknowledges the Dodgers will be without some of the most prominent Dodgers players in recent history, knows that's going to be an obstacle, but believes that there are still plenty of veterans and stars in the locker room to help the team move forward from such a tough transition.
Even when he throws shade, it comes off as reasonable! Freeman was prodded about the season's upcoming projections -- likely because the Padres are the computers' and pundits' favorite to win the division -- and he cited last year's powerhouse Dodgers team as the reason projections don't matter, since most people picked them to win the World Series.
Freeman's leadership was a paramount reason the 2021 Braves finished the season atop the baseball world. Now he's being put to the test in a bigger market with endless media coverage, and he's become at master at toning down pointed questions, controversial storylines, and elevated expectations.
He's getting in some good practice now, as the spotlight is as dim as it's ever been over the last six years in LA. The real challenge will be when LA becomes the talk of the town once again, but something tells us he'll be able to tone that down rather quickly whenever the topic arises.