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Freddie Freeman, Braves reach eight-year, $135M deal

Feb 4, 2014, 8:01 PM EDT

It was reported earlier as an agreed-upon eight-year extension. Now the exact terms are in …

That’s the richest contract in franchise history (averaging $16.875 million annually) and could keep Freeman in a Braves uniform through the 2021 season. It buys out all three of his arbitration years (2014-2016) and five years of free agency (2017-2021). The 24-year-old first baseman batted .319/.396/.501 with 23 home runs and 109 RBI in 147 games last summer for Atlanta, earning a fifth-place finish in the National League MVP vote.

  1. Joe Vecchio - Feb 4, 2014 at 8:09 PM

    Great news, Freddie is awesome and I hope he stays a Brave for life!

  2. asimonetti88 - Feb 4, 2014 at 8:15 PM

    Better to give long term big contracts to guys in their early and mid-20s than players in their early 30s, like Freddie’s hometown Halos are doing.

  3. NYTolstoy - Feb 4, 2014 at 8:19 PM

    Very smart move. Guy is a solid player and at 16 mil for 8 years that’s a bargain. GREAT MOVE By the Braves and it locks him up through the rest of the 20s and early 30s. Plus freeman will be a free agent at 32 so he can still get a big deal once more. Great deal on both sides.

  4. Mark - Feb 4, 2014 at 8:28 PM

    Seems like a ton of money and years for a guy who would have had an 850 OPS if the BABIP was closer to his 330 career. Not saying he’s a bad player or that he won’t have a repeat of this year, just that I’m not sure out of all their stars he’s the guy you lock up to this kind of money.

    • js20011041 - Feb 4, 2014 at 9:05 PM

      Exactly. He had a .370 BABIP last year. This obviously led to a career year. He had two sub 800 OPS seasons going in to last year. The Braves still had three years, counting this year, of team control. Let him prove he’s worth the big contract.

  5. jss1330 - Feb 4, 2014 at 8:37 PM

    Somebody needs to take the Kick Me sign off of Frank Wren’s back. There is absolutely no reason to give him this contract at this time.

  6. shyts7 - Feb 4, 2014 at 9:53 PM

    Anyone that says this wasn’t a good deal obviously doesn’t understand the financial situation of baseball today. This is a great deal. Locking up a guy of his caliber for long term will save the Braves in the long run. Freeman is now the replacement for Chipper in being the face of the franchise.

    • js20011041 - Feb 4, 2014 at 10:28 PM

      Yes, baseball as a whole is very healthy financially. The Braves, however, receive less than $20 million annually from their local tv deal. They’ve got another 13 or 14 years on that deal. To put that in perspective, the Dodgers new TV deal will be paying them $300 million a year. The Phillies are going to be receiving $100 million annually for their tv deal. To further put this in perspective, the Braves bring in exactly as much local tv revenue as the Rays. Atlanta is a big market, but the Braves don’t have the revenue of a big market team. Unless their ownership group is going to agree to completely take the handcuffs off the payroll, they need to make smarter decisions. Locking up a player coming off a career year that happened to coincide with a .370 babip, for market value (the discount, if there even was one, is negligible) is not smart. Compounding the decision is that they had three more years of team control. They didn’t have to lock him up now.

      Also, don’t ever, EVER, use the term “face of the franchise” when justifying a signing. Just don’t.

      • shyts7 - Feb 5, 2014 at 9:09 AM

        “Unless their ownership group is going to agree to completely take the handcuffs off the payroll, they need to make smarter decisions”

        You’re making my point. Ownership is the reason that the Braves payroll isn’t higher. They won’t spend any money. Don’t bring up to me that they have financial limitations with the tv deal. Liberty Media makes a lot of money off of the Braves. If the Braves were not a very profitable item for Liberty Media, they would sell them quickly. Maybe this is the start of Liberty Media giving Wren more money to work with. Maybe not. Time will tell. The old adage of if you want to make money, you have to spend money is right.

        Locking a very talented young player early is key. Freeman is just starting to come into his prime. He is going to get better. According to baseball-reference.com, Freeman is comparable with Paul Goldschmidt and Eric Hosmer, two other very young and talented players that are going to get big deals. Also just because you can name one Sabermetric stat that isn’t that good doesn’t mean that he isn’t worth the salary. Among qualified 1B, Freeman ranks the following:

        BA – 2
        OBP – 4
        Slug – 5
        DWar – 9
        War – 4
        OPS – 5

        He is top 10 in most categories for 1B. This deal not only buys out his arbitration but take a little gamble that he is going to get better. It’s a gamble that is worth taking and will save the Braves more money in the long run when he gets better.

        Every team has a face of its franchise. It’s more for marketing purposes than actually on the field. So if you actually believe that teams don’t use that term, then you don’t know very much baseball. The term is used and used with almost every big signing for teams.

  7. genericcommenter - Feb 4, 2014 at 10:14 PM

    Now he can afford to buy one of those Chipper Jones ATV things.

  8. evanfreeward - Feb 4, 2014 at 10:22 PM

    This news makes me so happy that I feel like hugging everyone…except Dan Uggla and BJ Upton.

    • temporarilyexiled - Feb 5, 2014 at 9:02 AM

      I can excuse the Braves for Uggla. Hard to blame them for trying. That said, I’ve never understood all the fuss over BJ Upton. We’re still waiting for him to be something other than Justin’s brother – not that Justin makes you feel entirely confident he’ll do it every year, either.

      • realgone2 - Feb 5, 2014 at 9:37 AM

        What really pisses me off about the BJ deal is that they signed him almost immediately after 2012. They didn’t even let the market heat up. If they had waited they could have got Michael Bourn cheaper. He is older and was hurt but he played way better than BJ. Whom recorded one of the worst season for a major leaguer in history. Right behind team mate Dan Uggla.

  9. nawlinsmitty - Feb 5, 2014 at 12:57 AM

    Big money now, drop in production next season. I WILL come back at the end of the season and say I told you so.

    • Chip Caray's Eyebrows - Feb 5, 2014 at 1:27 AM

  10. dxwells04 - Feb 5, 2014 at 1:56 AM

    Fab5 you deserve it bruh!

  11. louhudson23 - Feb 5, 2014 at 2:38 AM

    If Freeman suffers a drop off,injury or just plain fails to live up to the contract,so what? These pages are filled with stories of the same thing happening with other players,and for more money,all in the predictive certainty that is hindsight The idea that one signing is “brilliant” on signing day and another is “bad” is ludicrous. No one knows or has any real idea.It is all a gamble.. And no amount of stats or eyeballs can say otherwise.Until it happens,it’s all a guess,”educated” or not. Contracts are good or bad or pleasant surprises after the fact,not before,just like everything else about baseball. If stats were truly predictive,then we would know everyone’s stats and the final team standings for 2014 right now,before Spring Training even starts. Fortunately that isn’t the case.How boring that would be. Stats are the best indicator of future performance that we have short of a crystal ball,no more ,no less. What is clear is that the Braves like this player,and the player likes the Braves. If Freeman produces,the Braves got him cheap at today’s prices for most of his career. If he doesn’t,well,it will not be the worst,the first or the last bad contract they,or anyone else has signed. He is their best young player. He is probably the most popular Brave with the fan base. That is why they signed him and those are as good of reasons as any one else signs anyone else..

  12. bravojawja - Feb 5, 2014 at 11:02 AM

    I’m going to assume this deal is backloaded since Freeman wouldn’t have made more than $5.75 million this year via arbitration and less than $10 million after next year’s arbitration. If not, it’s a stupid deal for a very good player in his arbitration years.

    I have no problem paying the guy – he’s become a cornerstone of the team and a fan favorite – but it may be too much too soon.

    Also, if Freeman is about to make close to the annual value of that contract in Years 1 and 2, the Braves may as well go ahead and trade away Kimbrel now. That guy will make waaaay too much for a closer.

  13. 38thpercell - Feb 5, 2014 at 12:46 PM

    Sounds like a good deal until you compare his numbers to Goldys with AZ. Freemen less of a player making 10 mil more a year.

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