As Freddie Freeman rounded the bases after homering in Game 6 of the 2021 World Series this week, Joe Buck wondered out loudly whether we were seeing Freeman’s last game in a Braves uniform. Despite many Padres fans clamoring for Freeman to come to San Diego after the Padres seemingly kick Hosmer out, I laughed when I heard Buck say this because there’s no way Freeman leaves the Braves as a free agent this offseason.
This feels like a Yadier Molina situation with Freeman and the Braves. Molina came back to St. Louis as a free agent last season after taking a while to put pen to paper, but we all knew he wasn’t going anywhere. He just doesn’t fit in any other uniform.
There are times where players have said that they want to stay in a certain city but then when that team doesn’t show them the money, their mind instantly changes. With Freddie Freeman, that isn’t likely to happen because Atlanta won’t underpay him after winning the MVP and a World Series in back to back years. Even if the Braves do underpay him in order to keep others on the roster, he’ll be willing to stay for less money, as he has said he wants to be in Atlanta for the rest of his career.
Freeman said during the World Series “I haven’t envisioned playing anywhere else..” and “I think everyone in this room knows I want to stay here.” The extra World Series revenue should allow Atlanta to kick in a few extra dollars towards Freeman’s next contract.
We haven’t even mentioned Eric Hosmer as a significant barrier for the Padres if Freeman even considers leaving Atlanta. The only way getting a new first baseman would work (not including benching Hosmer and playing Cronenworth at first like this past season) is if a team trades their first baseman with A.J. Preller. There’s no way that Peter Seidler takes on a $150+ million Freddie Freeman contract while keeping a disgruntled Hosmer and his contract on the books.
Hosmer has four more years left on his deal, earning $13 million the final three years of the deal, which is much less than the $20 million he will receive in 2022. However, teams aren’t going to want to pay him that money even when the AAV declines in 2023, as he’s been worth just $4.5 million over the course of his first four seasons in San Diego, according to FanGraph’s dollar metric. Therefore, the Padres will need to eat a big chunk of his salary, which is less money they can give to a first baseman.
Is it great that Freeman’s son, Charlie, loves Fernando Tatis Jr.? Of course. But the Braves are going to make sure Charlie only sees Tatis come to Atlanta once every season--with Freeman in the opposing dugout.