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Great moments in narrative: the Braves allegedly made a “clear choice” of Freeman over Heyward

Feb 5, 2014, 9:51 AM EDT

Jason Heyward AP

Yesterday the Braves agreed to an eight-year, $135 million deal with Freddie Freeman. They separately agreed to a two-year, $13.3 million deal with Jason Heyward, buying out his last two years of arbitration. Today Jon Morosi draws a conclusion from that:

You could have described this as the Braves committing multiyear contracts to a pair of 24-year-old stars who already have earned their first All-Star selections. But the chasm of more than $120 million tells you what this really was: a choice between the two.

The headline calls it a “clear choice,” and from it Morosi concludes that the team has gone all-in with Freeman, that Heyward will become a free agent in 2015 when his deal is up and that “Freeman is the face of the team.”

Except I have no idea how he can conclude such a thing based on the information currently known.

Nowhere is it reported that the Braves didn’t offer Heyward a deal longer than two years. Indeed, they offered him such a deal last year. Heyward rejected it. That may have happened again. If you’re Heyward it would probably be smart to reject such a thing. He’s coming off of a year which began with an appendectomy and ended with a broken jaw. The two years before that he struggled at times. Despite this he really came on late last year and still has all sorts of promise. And he just turned 24. It is not at all unreasonable to think that 2014 and/or 2015 could be breakout years for him and, if they are, he’s poised to make serious money following the 2015 season. Did the Braves reject him, or did he reject them?

That aside, why is Morosi so certain the Braves can’t extend Heyward at some point before 2015, giving them both Freeman and Heyward as “faces of the franchise?” Dan Uggla and Justin Upton‘s deals both run out after the 2015 season. Between them that’s $27 million off the payroll when Heyward hits free agency. Think maybe, if Heyward plays well for two years, that the Braves may find room for him then? I do. At worst it could mean that the Braves have a choice between Upton and Heyward then.

All of this seems like a contrived narrative that attempts to read more deeply into the situation than the facts warrant. Which can be a useful exercise at times if what one is attempting to determine is itself useful. But to do so in the interests of naming “the face of the franchise” seems silly. Especially when the Braves’ chances over the next two years — and they have legitimate chances to contend for a championship in that time — depend on both Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward.

  1. jm91rs - Feb 5, 2014 at 9:57 AM

    A few years ago the Reds made the clear choice to sign Joey Votto over Brandon Phillips….then a week later signed Phillips as well. It all means nothing, someone had to sign first. Just hope Heyward doesn’t cry about it for years to come like Brandon (“They signed Joey before me???”).

    • Old Gator - Feb 5, 2014 at 10:11 AM

      I agree that it means little at this stage in most similar cases. However, if Heyward already rejected a long term deal last orfseason and settled only for a deal buying out his arbitration years this past one, then it looks more like he has been planning from the outset on making his killing as a free agent in 2015. If he has a flameout year in his walk season, or suffers an injury that compromises his long-term value, yeah, he’ll be pissed at himself, but I doubt if he’d blame the team for passing him over when he wasn’t going to commit himself to them for the long haul anyway.

  2. chacochicken - Feb 5, 2014 at 10:02 AM

    Well, Freddie is such a scrappy hard worker. Who can’t love that? Of course Heyward is more explosive, dynamic even and he seems well spoken. Just no good way to parse this out. I guess Chipper gave the Braves his blessing when he rescued Freddie from the great ATL blizzard of ’14.

    • Old Gator - Feb 5, 2014 at 10:12 AM

      To be rescued from two and a half inches of snow is indeed a miracle of Biblical proportions. If they ever hex the Pentateuch with a Book of Freeman, this story will be its narrative nucleus of condensation.

      • stex52 - Feb 5, 2014 at 11:29 AM

        C’mon Gator. You live in the South. They shut down Houston last week over the threat of possible afternoon sleet (which largely didn’t materialize). If the puddles actually froze there probably would have been mass hysteria and riots.

        We all must be great fun to the people north of the Mason-Dixon.

      • Old Gator - Feb 5, 2014 at 11:40 AM

        yeah, no doubt – as they look daggers at us while reading their heating bills.

        Then again, if Macondo got two and a half inches of snow, there would probably be mass die-orfs with frozen bodies dropping to the pavement from the balconies of their condos.

      • cur'68 - Feb 5, 2014 at 12:31 PM

        Nah. No one would die if it froze over in any part of Florida. I’ve seen a lot of the populace now. They’d survive a freezing, 10 day famine, and a drought just by living on their obvious reserves of bodily mass. Now if it sleeted velveeta, THEN there’d be a die off. The coronary heart disease, dontcherknow….

      • umrguy42 - Feb 5, 2014 at 12:58 PM

        Yes, those of us in the North take great delight in your pain. Well, at least when we think of you :p

        As I posted on my Facebook status today (with a pic of my half-cleared car):

        “To you it was a snowy day. But for me it was a Wednesday.”

      • historiophiliac - Feb 5, 2014 at 1:22 PM

        In all fairness, though, the “snow” is different down south, stex. I remember having to explain sleet to people up north. I’d rather have snow over ice any day. In the time I lived in Massachusetts, there was only one day that the road was impassible (and it was due to ice rather than snow). Mostly, we got snow up there. Here, we get ice all the time and I don’t care how good of a driver you are, ice is tricky (and, yes, especially so when you only do it a couple of times a year and your municipality/county doesn’t have good procedures for road care). Plus, I blame our weather people on TV who regularly predict the sky will fall and churning up the freak out factor.

    • proudlycanadian - Feb 5, 2014 at 10:16 AM

      Where is Larry when I need him? There is almost a complete white out here in the Toronto area.

  3. historiophiliac - Feb 5, 2014 at 10:15 AM

    Craig, I really hate it when you use “narrative” like this is a grad school seminar in English. Most of the time you really mean “interpretation” or “conclusion.” Just say that. When you say “narrative,” you are 1) abusing that word, and 2) appearing ignorant of the role of narratives in our thinking. Why couldn’t you just say that he doesn’t substantiate his conclusion with the facts at hand or that you need more evidence to agree with his conclusion? Faddish lingo is silly and annoying.

    • paperlions - Feb 5, 2014 at 10:22 AM

      The reason he used the word is because the article in narrative driven: the writer picked a narrative and wove it regardless of the available information….whereas a good writer would have penned something that was data/information-driven, with the available information driving the narrative.

      Of course ever story has a narrative, but the narrative should never have the wheel when reporting or when publishing an opinion (because opinions inconsistent with the data are not worth publishing).

      • historiophiliac - Feb 5, 2014 at 10:36 AM

        Which is why I said that he should say that the facts don’t support the interpretation instead. The writer picked an interpretation and wrote a narrative of it. That is the proper way to speak of it. It’s like hating a game summary because it’s a game summary. That’s ignorant. What you mean is you don’t like the summary as it’s written — not that you hate game summaries (which are narratives, btw).

      • paperlions - Feb 5, 2014 at 10:40 AM

        I agree.

        …but I think you are being a might touchy about the word “narrative”…..Craig uses this headline construction a lot, e.g. “Great Moments in HOF Voting”, which doesn’t mean he hates HOF voting, he’s just being snarky about the particular instance. The only time he uses the word in the text is to refer to it as a contrived narrative, implicitly recognizing that all narratives are not contrived, but this one is.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 5, 2014 at 10:43 AM

        He does it frequently, and it makes me crazy every time. This is not the first time I’ve complained of it. Maybe eventually I will break him of the very dumb habit — and also all y’all who think you are objective who look down on narratives.

      • paperlions - Feb 5, 2014 at 10:52 AM

        Good luck with that… my experience, even trained journalists and editors have little idea how to properly use words anymore (e.g. common use of the horrific phrases “manifest itself” and “the reasons why”).

        I don’t know anyone that looks down on narratives, just on contrived narratives or narrative-first approaches….that is like doing science by reaching a conclusion and then trying to fashion the facts to fit the conclusion….such reporting, “logic”, and story telling should be looked down on….regardless of the fact that it may accidentally or incidentally disparage the word narrative.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 5, 2014 at 11:11 AM

        Ok, you keep saying “narrative-first” and it’s driving me bonkers. When you talk about science, you say “conclusion” — it works the same way for non-sciences. Sheesh. BTW, science uses narratives too!

    • Old Gator - Feb 5, 2014 at 10:35 AM

      Histy: Oh yeah? Deal with this: discourse.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 5, 2014 at 10:39 AM

        Thank you for not resorting to “pastiche.”

      • Old Gator - Feb 5, 2014 at 11:37 AM

        No worries. I have a nut allergy.

      • stex52 - Feb 5, 2014 at 11:38 AM

        Okay, I thought I knew what discourse meant. I looked it up and now I have a headache. Thanks, Gator.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Feb 5, 2014 at 10:49 AM

      I used the word “contrived” before narrative. All stories have a narrative to some extent. Some are valid. Some are bullshit. This one is bullshit.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 5, 2014 at 10:55 AM

        Then don’t say “Great Moments in Narrative.” Just leave narrative off. You don’t need it. Quit abusing it. Simply say he’s full of crap. You don’t even have to drag “narrative” into it. Poor little thing.

        Also, ALL stories are narratives. All.

      • paperlions - Feb 5, 2014 at 12:00 PM

        Of course all stories are narratives…..that is what narrative means…..there is nothing wrong making fun of a crappy narrative. Making fun of such a narrative only devalues that narrative, not all narratives or the word “narrative”….which you seem to think. There is plenty of crappy science because there are plenty of crappy scientists, but those people are generally ignored and don’t really get in the way (too much or too often) of good science (with very notable exceptions such as the jackwagon that wrote fabricated data to fit the narrative he was paid to tell about vaccinations leading to autism, which lead to over a decade of research concluding that it was a fabrication and leading to the retraction of the publication), nor does it devalue the concept of science or the things we have because of it.

        Note that the anti-vaccination people are clinging to the narrative they prefer, leading to outbreaks of diseases all over the world because their way of knowing is narrative driven and not fact driven.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 5, 2014 at 12:20 PM

        paper, I am gonna tase you. You just did the same thing all over again. Without the use of the modifier, what you are doing is slamming narratives generally. You must specify. And why won’t you just say “interpretation”? Why do you insist on using “narrative” instead? If you wouldn’t say “story” there, don’t say “narrative” either. It doesn’t make you look smarter. Also, I must say that I’m disappointed that you of all people want to defend imprecise language.

      • stex52 - Feb 5, 2014 at 12:20 PM

        I’m a bit puzzled by your intensity on “narrative.’ We think in narratives. Through the vast majority of our history narratives were how information was conveyed. It is a tool for allowing thought constructs that allow understanding of a situation.

        The only problem as I see it, per Paper’s comment, is our unfortunate tendency to fabricate the bases for our constructs from wishful thinking.

      • umrguy42 - Feb 5, 2014 at 1:01 PM

        Then don’t say “Great Moments in Narrative.” Just leave narrative off.

        …But then it would just read “Great Moments in”, and we’d all be left hanging…

      • craigssideburns - Feb 5, 2014 at 1:05 PM

        Holy Sh!t you guys are a bunch of nerds.

      • historiophiliac - Feb 5, 2014 at 1:28 PM

        For the record, I woulda had a nerdgasm if Craig had said “Great moments in contrivance” instead. 😀

      • stex52 - Feb 5, 2014 at 4:13 PM

        We wear our pedantry with pride.

  4. paperlions - Feb 5, 2014 at 10:19 AM

    I think it is more a situation of Heyward betting on his skills that he can get more later and Freeman possibly realizing that his .371 BABIP is really not sustainable (though he could add power or walks to offset that) and signing a deal that pays him as if last year represented a new level of performance he’ll have going forward….really, the ONLY difference between 2013 and 2011-2012 for Freeman was his BABIP, power, walks, and Ks were all about the same.

    Freeman is also an average-ish fielding 1B with no defensive upside and defense generally peaks early in a career. If he waited, it is highly unlikely that he’d have more defensive value to point to….whereas Heyaward is an elite defensive RF.

    There are very good reasons for Heyward to bet that he could get more in 2 years and for Freeman to sign an extension when he’s 3 years out from FA….it is far more likely that the choices were up to the players and not the Braves at all.

  5. tropboi11 - Feb 5, 2014 at 10:27 AM

    Not Braves related. I am a Rays fan and my favorite player is Evan Longoria. Just recently he opened up a sports bar in Tampa called Ducky’s. A close friend of mine is the manager there. I figured this would be an easy way to finally meet him. Well just a few minutes ago I opened my laptop and it was signed into my girlfriends daughter’s Facebook page. Low and behold her and Evan have been messaging each other, and thats when I come across a picture of him holding his other bat. How am I ever supposed to watch my Rays or my favorite player ever again.

    • zzalapski - Feb 5, 2014 at 10:46 AM

      What’s the big deal? I’m pretty sure MLB hitters have multiple bats in their stash for the rigors of a full season, although the chances of one staying intact throughout has increased somewhat with Mariano Rivera’s retirement.

  6. uyf1950 - Feb 5, 2014 at 10:33 AM

    If Freeman can stay healthy and productive it’s a great deal for the Braves. If he can’t with the Braves traditionally having a team payroll in the $90MM range having one player (Freeman) eat up about 17% of it on an AAV basis is a killer. I guess we’ll find out a couple years down the road if the risk was worth it for the Braves.

  7. bravonknoxville - Feb 5, 2014 at 10:58 AM

    Who cares about the proper or improper usage of English??? Freeman was the single most important everyday player in the Bravos starting lineup to extend contractually! Next would be Simmons followed by either Justin Upton or Jason Heyward as far as position players are concerned…imho.

    Mike Minor would be the first pitcher to extend followed by Kris Medlen. Wren & company had better not let Minor walk away. This kid is the closest thing to an Ace on the Braves staff. Would not be surprised to see Kimbrel get dealt soon after the arbitration if a closer hungry team is ready to ante up the prospect(s) and MLB ready talent to pry him from Tomahawk Nation in 2014.

  8. realgone2 - Feb 5, 2014 at 11:14 AM

    Also Heyward hasn’t lived up to his potential and is really quite fragile. I prefer Freddy getting the long term deal.

  9. uwsptke - Feb 5, 2014 at 11:57 AM

    I’ve seen this before in Milwaukee. They offered Prince Fielder $100 mil over 5 years when he still had 2 years left in arbitration. He (and Boras) balked, so they signed him to a 2 year deal to cover the remaining arby years (just like Heyward), and offered the long-term deal to Ryan Braun instead.

  10. frank35sox - Feb 5, 2014 at 12:34 PM

    Declarative sentences are bad. You must use statements like, “Could, possibly, maybe infer…” or Craig will come after you.

  11. 38thpercell - Feb 5, 2014 at 1:12 PM

    Bad signing, compare his numbers to Goldys. Freemen less of a player making 10 mil more a year

    • jonevans511 - Feb 5, 2014 at 4:06 PM

      Goldschmidt will be my fantasy first baseman. That is all.

  12. tcostant - Feb 5, 2014 at 1:28 PM

    How do we know that Jason Heyward wasn’t offered the same contract first and choice not to delay his free agency that much. You have no idea…

    Changing spots here, Pittsburg offer Wallace a bunch of money to play WR a few years back, he turned it down and they gave the same deal to WR Brown. Wallance ended up getting even more as a free agent.

    You have no idea if the Braves “prefer” Freeman more…

  13. yahmule - Feb 5, 2014 at 1:38 PM

    Happy 80th birthday wishes for Hammerin’ Hank Aaron!

    • historiophiliac - Feb 5, 2014 at 2:07 PM


      /throws glitter

  14. shyts7 - Feb 5, 2014 at 4:37 PM

    If Heyward can stay healthy, he will get an extension after this year or next.

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