Braves Pave Way for Freddie Freeman


It looks as though Troy Glaus and Derrek Lee will be headed for free agency after the Atlanta Braves declined to offer them arbitration today. Glaus and Lee more or less platooned at first base for the Braves last season, though platoon may not be the best word as injuries caused the Braves to trade for, and switch to, Derrek Lee about two-thirds of the way into the season.

Troy Glaus actually represented a heck of a bargain, and one of the few moves I actually give Frank Wren a positive grade for. Coming in after missing all of 2009 with injuries, Glaus hit .240 for 17 homers and 71 RBI’s. Those numbers took a hit as Glaus struggled with injuries starting at the end of June, but he had a solid first half and came at a bargain-bin price. I really do wish Troy Glaus the best of luck.

Derrek Lee hit .287 with three homers and 27 RBI’s after being traded to Atlanta, but though his average was decent, he really failed to provide much pop for the Braves down the stretch. It’s not surprising he won’t be back, he came in advertised as a rental player.

The reason for the moves is clearly age and the Braves’ belief in the highly touted Freddie Freeman. Freeman is considered the Braves top power-hitting prospect and they hope he will be a solid addition to the line-up. At 34 and 35, Glaus and Lee aren’t the type of player the Braves were looking to build around. However, I can’t help but wonder if maybe it wouldn’t be worth having a veteran insurance policy in case Freeman doesn’t pan out.

In his brief stint in the majors this season Freeman hit just .167 with one homer in 24 at-bats, hardly a good sample size, but still a bit of a lingering doubt. The Braves hope with a full year in the majors Freeman will debut more like Jason Heyward and less like Jordan Schafer. Still, an insurance policy couldn’t hurt. Of course, in a pinch, the Braves could always shift Martin Prado to third and let Chipper Jones play first. But, right now the table is set for Freddie Freeman to be the Braves starting first baseman next year. It’s going to be exciting to see what the kid can bring.

Notes: The Braves also declined arbitration today on Rick Ankiel, Eric Hinske and Kyle Farnsworth. Farnsworth and Ankiel came over in a trade from the Royals. Always good to see Wren dumping prospects for rental players, which he did with Lee, Farnsworth and Ankiel. I also think Hinske brings a solid leadership element to an increasingly young team and will be sad to see him go.