Atlanta Braves Extension Candidate: Freddie Freeman

Today we will explore Atlanta Braves extension candidate Freddie Freeman. The cornerstone of the franchise and a guy that loves the Braves, it would be great to lock Freddie up long term. He has stated many times before that he wants to be a lifelong Brave and there’s no reason why the franchise shouldn’t keep him.

Freddie Freeman’s Background

Everybody knows Freddie Freeman. He’s been around through what seems like it all. He played with Chipper, he survived the rebuild, and now he’s a perennial MVP candidate on a (hopefully) World Series contender. In his 9 full seasons of work he has built quite a resume for himself: 2011 rookie of the year runner up, 4-time All-Star, placed 5 times in MVP voting including 4 top 8 finishes, a gold glove, a silver slugger award, and now veteran leader in his prime.

Freddie has put up strong numbers almost every year of his career. He has been worth 34.6 fWAR so far, and has been between a 4 and 6 WAR player the past few years. FanGraphs has him projected for 4.3 WAR again next year, at ~$9M per win he would have a pretty large surplus value on his $22M contract next season. Since he has proven he is an MVP caliber player almost every year, there shouldn’t be any question marks, right? Just one: how will he play after his elbow surgery this offseason. We all saw how much he struggled in September and the playoffs. Over his last 13 regular season games he went 5-39, a .128 batting average, with no extra base hits. If that doesn’t prove something was off, I’m not sure what does. The good news is the surgery was successful and Freddie said he should be more than ready for Spring Training. He also said after the surgery that his elbow felt the best it had in years.

The Case for Extension Candidate Freddie Freeman

There are not many players in the MLB that are both as good as Freeman and as happy with the team that they’re on. The best examples for someone to compare with would be Joey Votto or Miguel Cabrera. It’s almost a guarantee that he will get an extension due to the body of work he has shown the last 9 years. He wants to play here and I can’t see the Braves letting him walk. His last extension, 8 years for $135M, has 2 years remaining at $22M a year. While Freeman probably won’t be getting better in the coming years, he’s still in his prime. I’d expect an average of 4 WAR over the next 5 seasons or so. 2020 will be Freddie’s age 30 season. For comparison, Votto’s age 35 season was his first big down swing in a while and Cabrera was elite until his age 34 season. If Freddie follows that curve, he should be elite for roughly the next 5 seasons and then start his downward progression.

The Contract Proposal for Freddie Freeman

Continuing the comparisons, Joey Votto received a 10-year, $225M extension prior to his age 30 season. Cabrera received an 8-year, $248M extension prior to his age 33 season. I propose that the Braves wait until next offseason to work out an extension with Freddie. This will give a year to ensure that his elbow is fine, then plenty of time to negotiate. Freeman has been a pretty similar player as Votto had been up to this point in his career, so I think that is the best number to use. At this time next season I would offer Freddie an 8-year, $180M contract extension. He would make the already signed $22M in 2021, then I would structure it $25M in ’22-’25, and $20M in ’26-’29. This extension would run through Freddie’s age 38 season and allow him to retire a Brave or sign another 1-2 year deal if he’s still playing at a productive level.

Freddie could certainly make more in free agency, however I am basing the deal off the fact the Freeman wants to be a lifelong Brave and is willing to play at a discounted rate. Think of how Tom Brady takes less money in his contracts to have a better team around him. I could be wrong, but I believe Freddie values winning highly at this point in career and the Atlanta Braves are where he wants to be.

If you enjoyed this piece, have a peek at the first in this series on Cristian Pache.

Thanks for reading!

Long live Braves Journal!

Author: Matt P

Hello, I’m Matt Pocza! I am a 4th year finance and economics student at the University of Florida and I love the Atlanta Braves. I’ve played baseball my entire life, and I am a sidearm pitcher for the club team at Florida. I also enjoy scuba diving, football and business. Follow me on twitter @braves_rumors!

18 thoughts on “Atlanta Braves Extension Candidate: Freddie Freeman”

  1. It took a few tries for the new page to load. I always click on the banner, and then, when that doesn’t take, I hit the refresh button a few times. Thanks to everyone working on this problem.

  2. I’m fine with this deal but I’d turn the last 3 years for 20MM into club options or, if they’re guaranteed, 15MM each year.

  3. @2

    Me too. One thing that never happens for me is reaching the new page on the first try. Still, I am always reminded of the words of the poet Philip Larkin addressing the new growth of trees each spring – ‘Begin afresh, afresh, afresh’ !

  4. Freddie.

    5 years @30M and make a nice, clean break, all positive. Votto’s reputation up here has taken a big hit and there’s plenty more to come. No power, singles hitter, doesn’t even try for the fence much, defense now questionable. It’s not pretty, it’s even embarrassing, Miggy too, there are others. But nobody can do anything about it once the train is running, it just gets slower.

    Pay the guy what he is worth, starting next year- for the first time ever! The albatross does not come into view which is as it should be for someone we care about so deeply.

  5. One last point on the site. If you make a correction before you hit post it will not appear after the 5 minutes allowed, on the printed page. Until you hit refresh.

  6. I can’t get any any page on the first try either. It may or may not be relevant, but I’m in Europe…

  7. Votto is still a potentially useful player as a platoon/first bat off the bench guy. Unfortunately, he’s being paid way too much for that to be his role going forward. That is why this extension proposal actually makes sense; by the time Freddie hits his “late stage Votto” period he will only be paid $20M a year which may be reasonable for his production at that time :)

  8. Uhhhhh is anyone gonna say anything about the whole “ 2011 rookie of the year” thing? Craig Kimbrel won ROY in 2011, Freeman took 2nd lol might wanna fix that 🤷🏽‍♂️

  9. @9 I wouldn’t say Votto should be a platoon player just yet in his career, he was still worth a couple wins last year and was an all-star in 2018. He’s not the same player that finished 2nd in MVP voting in 2017, but he’s still a solid everyday guy. Just not worth what he’s being paid currently.

  10. I don’t really see the Braves going 8 years until he’s 38, and I don’t think they’ll have to. Votto is not some anomaly; guys are never worth $20M per at age 38. I think the market has corrected on that for the most part, and I don’t think Freddie can reasonably expect someone to give him that if he departed as a FA. So, if he wanted to leave, sure, I guess he might, but I would think that the Braves would only need to go through age 35 or 36.

    Something like 5YR/$125M is more in line with what I think he deserves and what I think will even happen.

  11. Votto had a .750 OPS last year, and I doubt he gets any better. He’s really, really close to needing to be a less-than-full time player.

  12. @13 Rendon just got 7/245 before his age 30 season. Him and Freddie have been similar players, so I’m pretty confident he’d get something near that in FA. Regardless, I think he gets a long term deal just because he wants to retire a Brave and he could take a discount for more years.

  13. LSU is okay.

    I think Matt’s nailed it. Freddie will likely sign a team friendly extension.

    Come on, AA. Give JD the fourth year.

  14. I’ll play GM.

    I can’t see the Braves doing a deal with AAV greater than $22-24M.

    With that in mind, I’d propose 6/$140 (24-24-23-23-23-23) with team options for year seven ($18M) and year eight ($10M) or a $5M buyout.

    This deal guarantees $145M with the potential for $168M, which would push Freddie’s career earnings just north of $300M.

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