Former Atlanta Braves legend, Chipper Jones, opened up about what went down during the Freddie Freeman negotiations that led to his departure.
Many Atlanta Braves fans thought Freddie Freeman would be the next Chipper Jones — someone who wins an MVP and a World Series and then finishes out a legendary career in Atlanta.
From Freddie Freeman’s press conference on Friday, it sounds like he thought all along that would be the case.
But as things played out, the Braves and Freddie couldn’t come to an agreement and chose to go their separate ways.
An article from Buster Olney at ESPN (subscription required) where he interviews Chipper Jones sheds a ton of light on how the negotiations went down.
Braves vs. Freddie Freeman — It’s a Dangerous Game to Paly
Negotiations between the two sides started before the 2021 season, and the Braves started with a low-ball offer. And then around the trade deadline, they upped their offer to five years and around $125 million.
Freeman’s camp made it clear that he would only accept an offer with a sixth year.
The Braves stuck with the fifth year but raised their total to $135 million, which is what many predicted could happen based on the deal that Paul Goldschmidt got from the St. Louis Cardinals.
"It was at this point Chipper Jones had a discussion with Freddie Freeman and told him, “You’re playing a dangerous, dangerous game … They will move on without you, because Alex has a job to do. If he doesn’t do that job, he puts his job in jeopardy.”"
Truer words have never been spoken. We’ve witnessed time and again with AA that once he reaches a limit on what he’s willing to do, he won’t go past that limit.
Freeman’s camp was hung up on getting that sixth year and — right or wrong — AA refused to give it to him.
This is what Chipper told Olney about his call with Freeman on Wednesday.
"“I didn’t want to sound like a dad,” Jones says. “I didn’t want to say ‘I told you so.'”"
Braves vs. Freddie Freeman — The Ultimatum
Maybe the most shocking part from Olney’s article is that Freddie’s agents, Excel Agency, gave AA an ultimatum this past Saturday telling him to choose from two proposals and gave an hour deadline.
First of all, that’s now how you deal with AA — or really anybody as an agent of a player.
Olney got this from four different sources, so I have to believe it’s true, but I wish it wasn’t.
AA don’t play that, and rejected both proposals (each proposal was more than Freeman actually ended up signing for) and even removed his offer from Freddie.
At that point, Freddie and his agents knew what the situation was and knew AA was going to move on. That makes it hard to buy the notion that they weren’t given a heads up about the Matt Olson trade, and I really don’t buy Freddie’s statement that he was shocked to hear about the deal.
Assuming Excel Agency kept Freddie up-to-date and he knew AA passed on their ultimatum, at that point, it’s all on Freddie Freeman. If he really wanted to play for the Braves, he could have told his agents to call AA and accept the final offer from the Braves of 5 years and $140 million.
But that didn’t happen, the Braves moved on, and Freddie’s market crumbled.
"Chipper says in the article that he wishes “we could go back in time, just about a week, and have a do-over. Just for Freddie’s sake.”"
That came during an hour-long FaceTime call between the two on Wednesday. To me, that screams that Freddie really wanted to be in Atlanta and knew he and his agents overplayed their hand.
Braves vs. Freddie Freeman — The Blame Game
I love Freddie Freeman, I’ll always love Freddie Freeman, but his comments during the press conference with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday were uncomfortable.
It seemed like he was fighting back tears at times, didn’t really know what to say, and it just seemed like he was still in a state of shock.
What shocked me, was that Freeman threw shade at Alex Anthopoulos in that presser.
And I get it, he’s getting bombarded with the same question and everybody asking him why he’s no longer with the Braves.
But his reaction to the question about AA crying seemed a bit distasteful. And then he made the comment about only receiving two calls from the Braves this offseason just to check in.
First of all, there was nothing to discuss — the sides had been talking for almost a year. AA had gone as far as he was willing to go, Freddie’s camp wasn’t budging, there was nothing new to talk about.
And most agents aren’t going to continually call a free agent to ask how their day is going — I’m not sure what Freeman was expecting.
After the presser, he did an interview with MLB Network and they asked him to say something to the fans in Atlanta, and instead of talking about how much he enjoyed his time there (which he did eventually mention) he basically went on the defensive and reiterated the point that AA only called him twice.
It was a terrible look. I get he had an emotional week — he himself said several times he never thought it would play out this way — but it was a little out of character for him.
In the end, he gets to play in front of his family in California and that’s great — I really am happy for him. The Braves have another great first baseman and set up to win for years to come.
But it’s sad to see the way things ended, and this quote from Chipper pretty much sums it up for me.
"“From my conversations with Freddie,” Chipper Jones says, “he wanted to stay. I’m just not so sure the way that he and his camp handled it was the way to make it happen.”"