In Freese’s case, the team is weighing whether to pay him a $6MM salary or instead allow him to depart with a $500K buyout. Of course, the delayed decision could also be seen as an indication that the sides are discussing a different deal altogether. It’s conceivable they are contemplating a reduced salary and/or multiple seasons.
The 35-year-old Freese came to Los Angeles in a swap with the Pirates that was finalized just before the end-of-August deadline to add players with postseason roster eligibility. He only saw 47 regular season plate appearances with the Dodgers, plus another 26 in the postseason, but raked throughout and obviously left a good impression.
Freese ended the 2018 campaign with a .296/.359/.471 batting line in 312 plate appearances. That’s a level of output second only to his 2012 campaign, and likely doesn’t quite represent a reasonable expectation moving forward. Freese did carry a hefty .360 batting average on balls in play, though he has a .343 career mark in that metric.
On the other hand, the just-completed season was also the first time since 2012 that Freese has taken less than 400 plate appearances. Keeping him fresh and decreasing his exposure to right-handed pitching — against which he has been competent, but hardly exemplary, throughout his career (.265/.337/.397) — could make Freese a notable part-time weapon.
For the platoon-heavy Dodgers, it’s not hard to see how Freese could make ongoing sense. He could spell Justin Turner at third base, function as part of the rotation at first, serve as a potent bench bat, and build out the club’s overall depth.