The Atlanta Braves should let Freddie Freeman leave

Brett Loftis, Publication Editor

Hear me out.  I know what many of you Braves fans are thinking.  “How could we let a future Hall of Famer and one of the best players in franchise history leave?” Well, there is a lot more to this situation.

The biggest issue right now in the Freddie Freeman saga is money.  Whether it be between the Dodgers, Braves or any other team involved at this time.  Freeman wants a load of money.  However, why shouldn’t he?  Since 2018, he has hit 105 HR, 355 RBI, 620 hits and a .306 batting average.  Not to mention that Freeman has made three straight MLB All-Star games, has won four National League Silver Slugger awards, one Rawlings Gold Glove, won the 2020 NL MVP and helped bring home the 2021 World Series to Atlanta.  However, it has been reported multiple times that Freeman wants a 6-year, $180 million contract. Could Atlanta afford that on their payroll?

The issue has never been about the money with the Braves.  They offered him a 5-year, $135 million contract before the lockout.  Being valued at about $27 Million per year, this contract  So why didn’t he accept this? Because Freeman badly wants a sixth year on the contract and at least $30 Million annually.  That is a lot of money to give to a 32-year-old who looks to soon be on the decline.

For myself and other Braves fans who share the same thought process as I do, it isn’t that we do not want Freddie Freeman back in the red, white and blue.  However, it does not make sense financially for the Braves to do this when there are as good, or maybe even slightly better options, elsewhere.  The best option right now would be Oakland A’s first baseman, Matt Olson.  Olson, an Atlanta native and a graduate of Parkview High School is one of the best up-and-coming first basemen in the majors.  Last season, the 27, soon to be 28, year-old hit 39 homers, 111 RBI and had a batting average of .271.  Olson has also won two gold gloves in his career and was named to his first American League All-Star team in 2021. Olson, who is just as great a defender, gives his team a bit more power and is a little bit worse of a contact hitter than Freeman, is around 4 years younger.  How much would Olson cost the Braves in 2022 if they were able to make a trade for him? $12 Million, $18 Million less than what Freddie Freeman wants to be paid this upcoming season.

Hypothetically speaking, if Freeman leaves and goes elsewhere and Olson comes home to play for the Braves, should Atlanta fans be upset at Freddie?  That depends on the way each fan looks at it.  Freeman commented back in 2019 saying, “I’m comfortable here. I’ve made the money. I now just want to end my career here… I don’t want to go anywhere else. I don’t.” So Mr. Freeman, if it is not about the money anymore, why have you not resigned with the Braves? Why are you considering other offers from other teams?  Braves Country, Braves fans and the Atlanta Braves franchise have put all their chips in on you for the past decade.  Did it work? Of course it did, we won the 2021 World Series.

However, do not lie to these fans.  We all understand that it is a business.  However, players like Cal Ripken Jr, Tony Gwynn, Barry Larkin, Derek Jeter and Freeman’s former teammate and mentor, Chipper Jones, stayed loyal to their franchise and maybe took below market value to play for one team their entire careers.  So, would I be upset if Freddie Freeman signed elsewhere?  Yes.  I would not be upset about the nature of the baseball business, but rather the lies it seems now that Freddie fed to the city and the fanbase of Atlanta.  Do I still think number 5 should be retired by the Braves? Yes to that as well.  What Freeman means to Atlanta and the Braves cannot be replicated by too many players.  However, as a die-hard Braves fan and if the inevitable does occur, there will be a sour taste in my mouth for a while when I hear the name, Freddie Freeman.