First baseman Freddie Freeman has become an institution in Atlanta since his career began in 2010, but there is a chance this will be his final season with the Braves. The reigning National League Most Valuable Player is not signed beyond this season, and if he does reach the open market over the winter, he’ll be one of the game’s highest-profile free agents. As of now, Freeman and the Braves are not progressing toward a long-term contract.
Asked about extension talks with the Braves, Freeman said Tuesday (via Jeff Schultz of The Athletic), “There is no negotiations.” Freeman added that discussing a deal during the season “would be a distraction and I don’t like distractions. My main focus is the game tonight and I don’t think there’s going to be much talking any time soon.”
Freeman has already received one lucrative payday from the Braves – an eight-year, $135MM extension in February 2014. As a soon-to-be 32-year-old, Freeman won’t sign a deal that long again, but a five- to six-year contract worth $25MM or more per season doesn’t seem outlandish. One comparable could be the Cardinals’ Paul Goldschmidt, who inked a five-year, $130MM guarantee with the Cardinals in 2019 at the age of 31. However, that was an extension hammered out several months before Goldschmidt could have gone to free agency, meaning the Cardinals weren’t competing against anyone for his services. The Braves may not have the luxury of avoiding a multi-team bidding war for Freeman if they’re unable to lock him up before the offseason opens.
Whether with Atlanta or another club, Freeman has done enough to earn a second nine-figure deal. The four-time All-Star has batted .294/.383/.510 (139 wRC+) with 245 home runs in 6,036 plate appearances, and he has missed only four games dating back to the beginning of the 2018 season. Freeman’s currently on pace for another tremendous year, having hit .233/.387/.517 (140 wRC+) with five HRs and a 14:6 BB:K ratio in 75 plate appearances. While Freeman’s batting average is uncharacteristically low, Statcast data suggests his .188 BABIP will eventually soar closer to his lifetime mark of .339.