Shopping Freddie Freeman makes sense for Braves

BY foxsports • November 17, 2015

Before the trade one might have suggested Andrelton Simmons was the “Face of the Braves.” A counter-argument would be Freddie Freeman. Despite Simmons’ defensive prowess and the relative fame it afforded him, Freddie Freeman was and is the Braves best player. Now that the club is just one season away from opening a new ballpark, it seems like a good idea to give fans something to cheer about and in turn put people in seats. So with that in mind, it might not make a lot of sense for them to be unloading young controllable and reasonably cheap talent. Instead, they did trade Andrelton Simmons and now the rumor is they are “shopping” Freddie Freeman.

Trading Andrelton Simmons is easy enough to defend. The Braves are currently in something of a rebuild – they traded Jason Heyward, both Uptons, and Craig Kimbrel last year. While Simmons is an elite defender, he brings little to the plate. So the total package can fluctuate between average (2 WAR) and All-Star (4 WAR). That’s a good player, but not a great one. And certainly not irreplaceable.

Add in fact the Braves’ top prospect (1,2) is shortstop Ozhaino Albies. He might not be the defensive wizard Simmons is. but he presents a good deal more upside with his bat and speed on the bases. He’s two or three years away, which is his only downside. But the Braves don’t seem to care that much about winning now. Nor should they. Rebuilding is about getting better for tomorrow afterall.

Unlike with Simmons, the Braves don’t have a clear successor at first base. It’s possible Rio Ruiz ends up there, but I’m sure the Braves are hoping he can stick at third, and he hasn’t exactly hit too much throughout his minor league career. And then there’s nothing. It doesn’t really matter though. Since the Braves have traded Simmons, it’s that much more unlikely they are going to be competing by the time they open their new ballpark. That’s why I think moving Freddie Freeman still makes sense. He is their best player and the one big trade piece they have left.

Freeman is a career .285/.366/.471 hitter. His best three offensive seasons are his three most recent seasons. He is owed $115 million over six years. That might seem like a lot at first glance, but it really isn’t, at least not for the type of player he is. He’s young at just 26 years old. It’s not like an over-30 player – Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder – under control through their late 30’s. So that six years is an asset. It’s a selling point.

On top of that, $115 million isn’t really that much when you consider contracts like the ones Pujols, Fielder, and Giancarlo Stanton signed, the latter of which got $325M for thirteen years. The annual average value for Freeman’s next six years is just a tad under $20M. Folks, that’s a bargain these days.

The Braves have this bargain value for a premium talent during an offseason which has almost no good options at the position Freeman plays. Chris Davis is really the only first baseman on the market worth mentioning. He’s not as good as Freeman is, he’s going to be 30 next season, and he’s likely going to cost $100M himself. Now there might be a team that finds it more compelling to just spend the money to get Davis instead of the money and prospects it’ll take to get Freeman. But even then that leaves no other real alternatives for other teams to go after.

The Brewers will be making Adam Lind available. And even though I think he represents a savvy pick-up, even I won’t make the argument he’s anywhere near the caliber of Freddie Freeman. He’s more of a budget buy or backup option. If a team needs big production at first base this winter, it’s either going to be Chris Davis or Freddie Freeman.

So Freeman is worth a lot and the market favors the seller at this position. If the Braves are indeed looking to trade Freeman, they should be able to maximize his value. In doing so, they would be setting themselves up nicely for a future run. It’s true that Freeman himself could be part of this future run for all the reasons stated above that make him a good trade asset. But in the meantime, the Braves would be doing nothing for about half those six years left on his contract.

Freddie Freeman’s value will never be higher than it is right now, despite questions about the health of his wrist. But the Braves don’t have to move Freeman this winter. The market is equally abysmal next year. They can wait until they get exactly the right package of players they want. Or if things break right, they can just keep him when they become competitive again. So yeah, it makes tons of sense for them to be shopping him right now. But remember that “shopping” doesn’t necessarily mean they will move him.

Statistics and contract information courtesy of FanGraphs

More from The Outside Corner:

 



share story