Freddie Freeman is still incredibly torn up about leaving the Atlanta Braves for the Los Angeles Dodgers in his MLB free agency.
Time may heal all wounds, but the one between Freddie Freeman and the Atlanta Braves is an open sore.
Freeman had been the face of the franchise for the last nine years. He made five trips to the MLB All-Star Game, winning multiple Silver Sluggers, a Gold Glove, an NL MVP and was part of Atlanta’s first World Series Championship since 1995 last season. Unfortunately, he and his representation outplayed its hand. Atlanta opted to trade for Matt Olson instead. Now, Freeman is in Los Angeles.
Even though he is supposedly gutted over the decision, he left higher AAV on the table with Atlanta’s five-year, $140 million offer. He wanted the sixth year and signed with his hometown Los Angeles Dodgers for $162 million. Freeman had an opportunity to be the next Chipper Jones, but turned heel to become the next Tom Glavine by willingly signing up to play for a bitter NL rival.
It did not take Braves Country long to move on, but this decision may stick with Freeman for a while.
Freddie Freeman very torn-up about the high-profile Atlanta Braves breakup
Look. Braves Country would have loved for Freeman to have stayed. It would have been picturesque for him to rock the No. 5 for as long as he wanted before riding off into the sunset as a career Brave like Chipper did. However, Atlanta general manager Alex Anthopoulos was not going to wait forever for Freeman to make his decision. He would not tolerate coming up empty-handed.
Trading for Olson was the only way Anthopoulos would not have had all of Braves Country turn on him. Olson grew up in Lilburn and was a star at Parkview, the same alma mater as Jeff Francoeur. Had he have not been drafted in the first round by the Oakland Athletics out of high school, Olson would have been roommates with Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson at Vanderbilt University.
In the wake of the Olson trade, Atlanta added two more former high school area stars in free agency: Collin McHugh from Providence Christian in Lilburn and Tyler Thornburg from Riverwood in Sandy Springs. All three guys were ecstatic about being able to put on the Braves uniform and proudly rock the A cap in their hometown. Ultimately, this is what Freeman gave up by leaving.
Wearing the Dodger blue and rocking the LA ball cap sounds cool for a native Angeleno, but Freeman is from Orange County and grew up rooting for the Halos. His dad may live in Southern California. His wife and their three boys may winter in Corona Del Mar anyway, but there are going to be factions of Braves Country who will never forgive him, especially by going to the Dodgers.
Ultimately, weather and contract length beat out AAV, taxes and loyalty for Freeman’s services. He may have a great half-dozen years for the Boys in Blue, but the Dodgers are never going to love him like Braves Country did. They will appreciate him, they will respect him and they will win with him. But if he wants to cry crocodile tears for leaving the Braves, I will go find my trusty bagpipes.
For a player with an untarnished legacy, Freeman has to look in the mirror at his first real blemish.