First-ballot Hall of Famer Chipper Jones commented on how Freddie Freeman should have fought harder to work out a deal with the Atlanta Braves.
Hearing Braves fans lament about how Freeman should have tried harder to stay in Atlanta is one thing, but hearing that criticism from a team legend hits differently.
Chipper Jones spoke openly about what he told Freeman during contract negotiations, encouraging him to work harder to make a deal with Atlanta rather than play the free agency market.
“I do not agree with the way that this was handled on Freddie’s side,” Jones said. “If you want to play in Atlanta, you play in Atlanta. You maybe take a little less to be happy and play in a place that is comfortable for you.”
“The second that Freddie told me that he rejected the 5 for $135 [million] after the All-Star break, I told him, ‘You’re playing a very dangerous game,'” Jones continued. “You go out on the free agent market, you get courted by all the pretty girls that are on the block, chances are, you’re not gonna come back. If you take your time waiting on that six-year [deal] into January, [Atlanta] has a job to do.”
Chipper Jones calls out Freddie Freeman for failing to stay in Atlanta
Of course, Jones is assuming that staying in Atlanta was the prevailing factor for Freeman, which does not seem to have been the case. Freeman chose a deal with the Dodgers that is less than the deals he proposed to Atlanta, and while he could have been pressured to sign with Los Angeles because the Braves had already moved on with Matt Olson.
But taking that original offer of five years for $135 million, as Jones suggested, would have also been underselling one of the best first basemen in the league who was integral in their World Series win. Freeman may have made a mistake in holding out for too long, but the Braves may have also kept him if they originally offered a higher number.
Throughout contract negotiations, it’s easy for long-standing relationships to sour if a player feels they have not been valued by a team. Perhaps Jones always felt valued by the Braves, but that seemed to be different for Freddie by the end.