LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Freddie Freeman spent the offseason sharing excitement about the possibility that Josh Donaldson would not end up being the Braves' only significant addition.But now that the Braves have opened Spring Training without adding J.T. Realmuto, Craig Kimbrel or any of the other potential targets some
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Freddie Freeman spent the offseason sharing excitement about the possibility that Josh Donaldson would not end up being the Braves' only significant addition.
But now that the Braves have opened Spring Training without adding J.T. Realmuto, Craig Kimbrel or any of the other potential targets some fans clamored for, Freeman believes general manager Alex Anthopoulos has taken the right approach by not potentially tainting the future in an effort to immediately improve what could already be a good product.:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::
"If we had signed Josh, [Nick Markakis] and [Brian McCann] the last week of the offseason, everybody would be happy right now," Freeman said. "I understand we [made moves] so fast and then other things didn't pan out. You're not going to spend money just to spend money, because then we'll be put in a situation two or three years from now where we won't be able to sign someone who becomes available via free agency then."
The Braves created the offseason's first big splash in late November by signing Donaldson and McCann to one-year contracts. Between the completion of these deals and Markakis' deal with Atlanta on Jan. 22, the Mets (Edwin Díaz, Robinson Canó, Wilson Ramos, Jeurys Familia and Jed Lowrie), Phillies (Andrew McCutchen, Jean Segura and David Robertson) and Nationals (Patrick Corbin, Aníbal Sánchez, Brian Dozier, Yan Gomes and Kurt Suzuki) each made significant additions.
Braves fans became more disgruntled last week when they learned Realmuto was traded to the Phillies, who could still land either Bryce Harper or Manny Machado.
Given the Mets, Phillies and Nationals have generated more attention recently, Freeman might be correct in his belief that the sequence of these events has influenced opinions about what has transpired in the National League East. But this doesn't alter the fact that the Braves added one of the game's top players in Donaldson, whose healthy presence should positively impact both the lineup and bench.
"I feel like we've gotten so much better," Freeman said. "I feel like everybody is questioning it because the whole NL East got better. The NL East is crazy. It's going to be a fight to the end. Everybody is talking about everybody else. They forget we won 90 games and got better. They all [made those moves] to catch up to us."
In the frequent conversations he shared with Anthopoulos and assistant general manager Perry Minasian this winter, Freeman successfully lobbied for the Braves to sign McCann. The veteran catcher's willingness to accept a $2 million salary made him a much easier sale than the one Freeman would have to make on behalf of Kimbrel, whose asking price still exceeds Atlanta's range.
When Freeman saw a social media post of Kimbrel in the Orlando International Airport on Thursday afternoon, he called his friend and former teammate to ask him why he was in town. The accomplished closer's agent lives in Orlando, but he said he primarily came to Florida to golf and spend time with friends.
While there have not been any recent discussions and a reunion appears to be a longshot, there's at least a chance that as time passes, Kimbrel's ask could eventually fit the Braves' comfort level. Anthopoulos still has the financial flexibility to make another significant addition this winter or possibly next summer with an in-season move akin to the ones he struck to bring David Price and Troy Tulowitzki to Toronto before the 2015 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
"I like what [Anthopoulos] is doing," Freeman said. "I know the fans don't like it. But I think it's good for what's inside this culture, because once we get going and he realizes what we need, he'll go get it. He's not afraid to do it."