In Major League Baseball, the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers are known as some of the top franchises in all of sports. With player trades coming up this offseason, what team do you think will win more games over the next 5 years?
The “dodgers uniforms” is a topic that has been hotly debated for many years. The top 5 free teams are the Braves, Yankees, Dodgers, Cardinals and Giants.
Six first basemen in their 30s have signed nine-figure contracts, but the results haven’t always been stellar. The megadeals for Miguel Cabrera and Albert Pujols quickly became a source of contention. The one for Ryan Howard did as well. Jason Giambi and Carlos Lee trades began strong but faded down in the second half.
Then there’s Paul Goldschmidt, who in March 2019 agreed to a five-year, $130 million agreement with the St. Louis Cardinals, a deal that won’t start until he’s 32 years old in 2020. He’s now the finest and most apt parallel for Freddie Freeman, the five-time All-Star from the World Series champion Atlanta Braves, who, strangely, is still unsigned while Major League Baseball negotiates a long-term labor agreement.
In the first two years of his contract, Goldschmidt performed like an elite first baseman, with an.881 OPS and normally superb fielding, and there have been no indications of a big drop-off. Things like that tend to happen swiftly and unexpectedly. However, the typical reluctance to spend big money on slugging first basemen in recent years doesn’t apply to Freeman, a naturally great hitter and a top fielder who isn’t asking for a contract that will keep him playing into his late 30s or early 40s.
The sticking issue for Freeman, who turned 32 in September, seems to be a sixth guaranteed year, which would put him among the highest-paid players in the league as late as his age-37 season. Will he be deserving of such a sum by then? Most likely not. However, clubs are aware of this when they spend a lot of money on star players in the hopes of getting enough exceptional output on the front end to cover the loss of value on the back end.
Freeman’s track record implies that he is capable of doing so. He has the ninth-most FanGraphs wins above replacement (42.4) in baseball from 2011 to 2021, while also placing 13th in weighted runs produced plus (139) and 12th in OPS (.894). He has at least three fWAR in each of the last nine seasons, including the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season, in which he was named the National League’s Most Valuable Player. His most fruitful season was the 2021 season, which concluded with a title. Freeman is now the top hitter in a free-agent class that started with a lot of talent. And, since the Braves have yet to sign him, he will be one of the most sought-after players in baseball when the season begins.
We’ve listed his top five matches here.
This is a poor fit and definitely a long shot. Some may think it’s completely ridiculous. Freeman, on the other hand, would be a game-changer for a Tigers club that is definitely on the rise. Yes, the Tigers are set at all of the spots where Freeman’s presence would be felt: Cabrera is set as the designated hitter, former No. 1 selection Spencer Torkelson will shortly take over as the everyday first baseman, and Jeimer Candelario is back at third base after a great season. But take a deeper look.
Cabrera, who is 38 years old and entering the latter two years of his career, is no longer an elite hitter. Torkelson has spent approximately a third of his minor league time at third base, and the Tigers would likely be ready to overlook some subpar fielding there in exchange for putting Freeman in the center of their order. Last season, Candelario was the Tigers’ most consistent hitter, but he’s also two years away from free agency, so the Tigers might use a trade to acquire a couple guys and solve other problems.
With AJ Hinch entering his second season as manager, this is an exciting moment in Detroit. Contracts worth $217 million have been signed by Eduardo Rodriguez and Javier Baez. As emerging starting pitchers, Casey Mize, Matt Manning, and Tarik Skubal seem to be on the verge of making significant strides. Torkelson and Riley Greene, a 21-year-old outfielder who was picked fifth overall out of high school in 2019, are both expected to make their MLB debuts. And Freeman might be the deciding factor. Freeman isn’t required by the Tigers (what they really need is an outfielder). His bat, on the other hand, might help them push for a postseason berth — and set the tone for the next half-decade.
Consider Vladimir Guerrero Jr., George Springer, Bo Bichette, Teoscar Hernandez, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., and Freddie Freeman as a starting lineup. The Blue Jays have one of the most formidable attacks in baseball, with Jose Berrios, Hyun Jin Ryu, Alek Manoah, and Kevin Gausman anchoring their rotation. However, they lost Marcus Semien, the AL MVP voting’s third-place finisher last season, and will have a far greater chance of winning the very tough AL East if they can replace his output.
Even though it isn’t the most perfect approach, Freeman represents the simplest way to accomplish it. To make room for him, Guerrero would have to return to third base, where he battled tremendously in 2019. (outs above average rated him a minus-20, last among qualified third basemen by a lot). He should, however, be a lot better. Guerrero has excellent hand-eye coordination. He lost weight in 2021 and will play as a 23-year-old next season. Given that Guerrero — and Freeman, particularly as he approaches his mid-30s — can also play DH, the Blue Jays should be able to make this work at least part-time.
From 2016 through 2021, Corey Seager’s batting line was.295/.364/.501.
From 2016 through 2021, Freddie Freeman has a.305/.399/.547 line.
Buster Olney ranks the best of the best in baseball, position by position.
Pitchers | Infielders | Outfielders | Teams
Seager’s offseason move to Texas left a hole in the Dodgers’ order for a left-handed batter wedged between Mookie Betts and Trea Turner, and who better to fill it than Freeman? The Dodgers, who are said to be interested, can make it work from a positional standpoint, particularly if the designated hitter moves to the National League.
Max Muncy, the team’s usual first baseman, can play second base, but he also has the ability to play third base, enabling Justin Turner to rest. Gavin Lux, who is expected to start at second base with Turner taking over at shortstop, has a history of playing the outfield in the playoffs (not particularly well, but he can certainly improve). Chris Taylor is a versatile player who can step in for anybody.
The Dodgers’ lineup would be just as frightening with Freeman in it as it was during the stretch run of the 2021 season, but it would also provide them greater freedom to make a deal. Lux, who the Dodgers have long been hesitant to move, could be utilized to find starting pitching assistance, allowing the front office to avoid overpaying in a free-agent market that has swiftly dried up. Turner, who is set to become a free agent next year, might be utilized to help rebuild a farm system that has been depleted at the top.
Other options exist, but the Dodgers’ main concern, as usual, is deal length. It’s difficult to see them committing to Freeman for six years. If their budget permits, they’ll most likely try to entice him with better compensation and a shorter contract.
You’ve probably heard it before, but the Yankees are in desperate need of a left-handed bat. They need a left-handed batter to bat in the middle of the order. They need a first baseman who bats left-handed. They also need a left-handed batter capable of altering the composition of a skewed team. Matt Olson would be good, but he would detract from the sorts of young guys the Yankees want to maintain. Anthony Rizzo would be excellent, but he wouldn’t have the same effect. Freeman is a game-changer who may cost half as much as Carlos Correa, the talented shortstop who would cover yet another gap in the Yankees’ lineup.
The Yankees are allegedly looking for a much less expensive shortstop who can fill in until Anthony Volpe or Oswald Peraza are ready to take over. Freeman contributes to this justification. In 2022, his deal would boost the Yankees’ payroll to more over $240 million, putting them on par with the New York Mets. However, a number of players, including Joey Gallo, Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton, Luis Severino, Gary Sanchez, and Aaron Judge, are set to become free agents next offseason, and they will certainly want to lock up the latter. Whether you agree with the decision or not, the Yankees can surely incorporate a Freeman deal into their budget.
1. The Braves of Atlanta
This is where Freeman is supposed to be. He’s as much a part of the current Braves as Chipper Jones was with the previous ones, and his effect is comparable to that of Cal Ripken Jr., Derek Jeter, and Tony Gwynn on their respective teams. It would be appropriate if he retired as a Braves player, with a plaque in Cooperstown with his name and a Braves hat on his head.
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According to the most recent rumors, the Braves would not go higher than a five-year, $135 million deal for Freeman, while Freeman and his team wanted the sixth year (and a total of $200 million). That does not seem to be a significant enough gap to lose a key player like Freeman. It’s not like they just won the World Series. Not when you consider Freeman’s lost seasons on his way to become the captain of a club that is now routinely among the best in the league. Not while he’s still performing at his peak.
Injuries decimated the Braves in 2021, to the point that general manager Alex Anthopoulos had to rebuild his whole outfield in the middle of the season. Freeman was a reassuring presence. He led the National League in plate appearances, batting.300/.393/.503 to win his third Silver Slugger Award in a row. Next year, Ronald Acuna Jr. will return. Mike Soroka may be one of them. The Braves have the potential to be much better. However, only if Freeman reappears.
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