Skip to content

You Never Count Your Money When You’re Sitting at the Table

March 21, 2022

Hugh Atkins

Freddie Freeman has left Atlanta. The five-time All-Star first baseman and 2020 National League Most Valuable Player signed a six-year deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers reportedly worth $162 million. Braves fans were hopeful Freeman would rejoin the team with a long-term contract and perhaps finish his career in Atlanta. The Braves and Freeman apparently could not agree on the length of a contract. The Braves reportedly offered a five-year deal worth $140 million, but Freeman wanted a sixth year.

Prior to Freeman signing with the Dodgers, the Braves acquired first baseman Matt Olson from the Oakland Athletics. Before the Braves faithful had time to fully comprehend that this trade signaled the end of the line for Freeman in Atlanta, Olson signed an eight-year contract with his new team worth $168 million.

© T.C.G.

The departure of Freeman and the details surrounding it are cold reminders that baseball is, at its most basic, a business. This should come as no surprise to anyone; after all, back in 1920 the Boston Red Sox sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees. But Freeman was the Braves’ most popular player at least since Chipper Jones, likely since Dale Murphy, and perhaps since the team moved to Atlanta in 1966. Add to that the fact that Freeman was such an integral part of the Braves’ World Championship team, and his leaving is especially troubling for the fans.

Early reaction on Twitter was harsh. How could the Braves let Freeman walk? The Braves, coming off a World Series title, had plenty of money to spend, so they should have just paid up. Where was the team’s loyalty to their star player?

As far as loyalty goes, I’ve always felt as if that were a two-way street. The Braves paid Freeman in excess of $133.5 million over the last 11 seasons and offered him $140 million for the next five. It’s difficult for me to see the disloyalty in that. I’m not saying Freeman owed the Braves anything. He certainly had the right to seek the best deal he could get.

In a one-sided report on the Dodgers signing of Freeman, Bob Nightengale of USA Today quoted Freeman’s dad, Fred, as saying, “‘He (Freddie) said, ‘I can’t believe it. Why didn’t they tell me? How did this happen? Out of nowhere, they didn’t tell me they were moving on.'” Another more complete report from Buster Olney on answers those questions.


According to Olney, Freeman’s representation, Excel Agency, gave Braves’ general manager, Alex Anthopolous, an ultimatum: the Braves had one hour to give Freeman either a six-year deal worth $175 million or a five-year deal worth $165 million. When Anthopolous didn’t cave after an hour, the Braves were telling Freeman that “they were moving on,” so it did not come from “out of nowhere,” and that’s “how this happened.” If I were selling my house and told a prospective buyer that he had one hour to accept my asking price of $500,000, and I did not hear back from him, then I shouldn’t be flabbergasted when I see him moving into the house next door.

Perhaps Nightengale should have quoted Kenny Rogers in his article: “You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, and know when to run.”

I hate all this, but I think, ultimately, it is a win-win situation. Freeman got his six-year contract and is headed home to L.A., and the Braves got a cheaper, younger first baseman in Matt Olson, whom I believe the fans eventually will embrace.

(Historical salary data is from Baseball Reference. The complete article by Buster Olney’ on is available by subscription.)

2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 21, 2022 5:11 pm

    I understand that fans feel angry when a fan favorite leaves, but this is probably a smart move for the Braves as Olson is (like you said) younger and cheaper and there wouldn’t be an offensive numbers drop-off. Dare I even say Olson is the better defensive first baseman?


    • March 22, 2022 2:23 pm

      Yes, I think you can say Olson is the better defensive first baseman. Perhaps Braves fans should look at the Freeman/Olson situation from the perspective of an A’s fan. Freeman is gone, but the Braves had him for 11 years. A’s fans rarely get to see players like Olson and Chapman reach their full potential before management ships them off for prospects.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: