The MLB has had a major shakeup with two new permanent rules. A universal DH, and the less talked about removal of draft pick compensation. The Atlanta Braves will have to consider this
The real question here, is how will this play a role in Freddie Freeman returning to the Atlanta Braves? From the outside looking in, this should play a huge role in Atlanta’s chances of signing their 2020 MVP winner.
These rule changes could potentially be bad for the Atlanta Braves
You have probably seen many fans across social media platforms get excited about the Atlanta Braves’ chances of signing Freddie Freeman because it appeared that the biggest roadblock to signing him was a 6th year on the contract.
The 6th year being an issue is probably true. It is also true that with the DH coming to the NL, then the 6th year at a high rate of pay would be more manageable since the Braves will not need as much value in his defense.
The Atlanta Braves are not the only suitors
The issue here is that it is easy to get stuck in a vacuum and get hyper focused on just the negotiations between Freddie Freeman and the Atlanta Braves since it seems like a perfect marriage. However, the addition of the official implementation of the DH in the NL just opened up quite a few more suitors.
The way the league is trending teams, for the large part no longer have one single player that is their DH. There are exceptions to the rule with guys like J.D. Martinez and Nelson Cruz, but we have seen a trend where the DH slot is used to take advantage of platoon splits and to offer rest to players.
If we look at the American League in 2021, we can see that teams used multiple DHs:
· Baltimore: 11 DHs used (3 with at least 21 games)
· Boston: 15 DHs used (3 with at least 6 games)
· Chicago: 18 DHs used (4 with at least 18 games)
· Cleveland: 13 DHs used (3 with at least 7 games)
· Detroit: 16 DHs used (4 with at least 11 games)
· Houston: 14 DHs used (3 with at least 10 games)
· Kansas City: 13 DHs used (4 with at least 19 games)
· Los Angeles: 6 DHs used (Ohtani had 126 games)
· Minnesota: 15 DHs used (3 with at least 11 games)
· New York: 8 DHs used (3 with at least 13 games)
· Oakland: 17 DHs used (3 with at least 18 games)
· Seattle: 15 DHs used (3 with at least 26 games)
· Tampa Bay: 14 DHs used (3 with at least 19 games)
· Texas: 20 DHs used (8 with at least 11 games)
· Toronto: 20 DHs used (7 with at least 11 games)
Because of this, combined with an added hitting slot for 15 teams, Freddie Freeman’s demand just went up. The economics 101 of supply vs. demand does not favor the Atlanta Braves in this situation.
Typically in situations where a team likes a player and the player likes the team, the contract leans towards who has more leverage. The leverage just took a huge shift in Freddie’s direction.
Whether this just means Freddie Freeman will leverage other team’s offers for more money, or if he is actually considering them is yet to be seen.
Draft pick compensation being taken away is a huge deal for the Atlanta Braves
Just like the DH being implemented, the draft pick compensation has a direct impact on Freddie Freeman’s market. The Atlanta Braves extended a qualifying offer to Freddie Freeman, which in the old system meant that any other team who signed him would forfeit their applicable draft pick to Atlanta.
This was a form of leverage for Atlanta because they did not have to forfeit a draft pick when any of the other 29 teams would. That leverage is now gone.
Since the previous CBA, players with a draft pick attached to them have traditionally had more difficulty getting what they believe their market value is. This helps the team that attached the draft pick to have to upper hand in re-signing the player. This advantage no longer exists.
If you combine the 2 new rule changes, it will most likely result in 2 scenarios
The first scenario is one that most Braves fans probably hope for. This scenario is that the Atlanta Braves will cave and pay Freddie Freeman for his rumored 6th year road block since he now has more negotiating leverage.
The second scenario is the opposite. Freddie Freeman’s demand may have increased much more than the Atlanta Braves front office is willing to pay.
Whatever happens, it is safe to say that when the lockout ends, Braves fans will be on the edge of their seats.