Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman will play for Team Canada in the upcoming World Baseball Classic.
While many celebrities were threatening to move to Canada in the past year, it seems the first to follow through on the move will be Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman and thankfully it has nothing to do with politics. With the Reds’ Joey Votto declining to play for Canada at this spring’s World Baseball Classic, first base has become open and if proud Canadian baseball fans can’t have the seventh-place finisher for the 2016 NL MVP representing them, they might as well have the sixth.
According to Jon Morosi of MLB.com, Freddie Freeman will represent Canada and play first base. While Freeman was born in a water polo hotbed in Orange County, California, under the rules of the World Baseball Classic, players can play for a country if at least one parent was born in the nation a player plans to represent. In Freeman’s case, both of his parents are Canadian.
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The availability of first base is important as well. If Canada had Joey Votto playing at first, they would need to find a spot for Freeman at third base or in the outfield and Atlanta would likely only sign off on Freeman’s participation in the tournament is if he was playing his usual position during the equivalent of his time in Spring Training.
Of course, Freeman is good enough to start at first base for Team USA or any team in the world. So why would he choose to play for Canada instead of one of the WBC favorites in Team USA? The reason for his baseball defection is venerable, as representing Canada is a tribute to his mother Rosemary, who died of melanoma when Freeman was 10. Freeman has decided to play for Canada and it sounds like this upcoming WBC in 2017 is something he has had his eye on for a long time.
In this interview from 2013, he mentions the WBC and the fact that there would be a couple of pretty good first baseman ahead of him in Joey Votto and Justin Morneau but he would hopefully get his chance in 2017. It looks like Freeman’s opportunity to honor his mother will happen at this spring’s tournament and Canadian baseball fans should have an anchor for their lineup going forward.