While Chopfest was going on at SunTrust Park last weekend, Freddie Freeman had some interesting things to say to both media and fans.
That question is not absurd, given Freeman’s comments to FOX Sports over the weekend. The comment – which strangely wasn’t followed up by the interviewer – was “I want to be here forever” and “hopefully I can be here for the rest of my career”.
I’ll go on the record now: I’d sign on to that idea.
That full interview is available to watch here:
The context was Chipper Jones‘ Hall of Fame phone call, their relationship (Freddie was on site for the call), and how Chipper’s organizational loyalty has ‘rubbed off’ on him.
That should beg these questions:
- Have the Braves had such a discussion with him or his representation (Excel Sports Management) yet? The answer that would almost certainly be “no” – particularly given the last few months of front office mayhem.
- Would he entertain such an offer from the Braves? That would be a good follow-up question.
- What would it take? Ah, now there’s the tough one.
Freeman has made his millions – no doubt – and millions more are still coming. His 8 year, $135 million deal lasts for 4 more seasons, so there is certainly no urgency to get anything done at this point, but there is a new economy that seems to be developing that the Braves might want to consider getting ahead of… if possible.
In 2014, Business Insider ranked MLB contracts by position and found that starting pitching and first basemen scored the highest salaries. At that time – just after Freeman inked his own deal – contracted first basemen averaged $20.5 million and peaked at $25 million per year.
Freddie’s deal pays him $21 million each year in 2018-19 and $22 million for 2020-21.
Currently, the highest paid at the position is Miguel Cabrera at numbers that will span from $30 million (2018) to $32 million (2022-23). There’s a couple of vesting option years after that, but it’s difficult to see those happening.
Goldy is still on his original arbitration-buyout deal through 2018… with a $14.5 million team option that will surely be exercised. He would then hit free agency after the 2019 season after age 31.
Rizzo is in a similar situation: he gets just $7 million this year, $12 million in 2019 and then a pair of $16.5 million option years controlled by the Cubs. He would not hit free agency, then, until after his age 31 season during the Winter of 2021.
Freeman, now 28, will have just turned 32 when his current pact ends after that same 2021 season.
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Barring another player jumping in to join these elite 1st basemen, that means it will be Goldschmidt being next up to set the market price, which, of course will come after others like Bryce Harper and Manny Machado get their paydays.
Mike Trout, by the way, becomes a free agent after 2021.
Were I to represent the Braves, I’d consider throwing out a figure as an initial extension for Freeman… something like 5 more years and $125 million with declining options after that. But not quite yet.
That’s a raise without going crazy and doing something that might cripple the team for the next decade. But again, this is probably a bit premature… it is more important to get the Braves into a winning mode first: that would make an offer just that much sweeter to begin with. After 2019, perhaps?
Meanwhile, I just hope he can still rake after the LASIK eye procedure he had done. That just scares me!