Freeman seeking 6-year deal?

November 16th, 2021

MLB.com is keeping track of all the latest news and rumors surrounding first baseman , who is a free agent.

Nov. 16: What’s holding up talks between Braves, Freeman?
The biggest issue in contract talks between the Braves and Freeman is whether the 2020 NL MVP will get a sixth year, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, who notes that the situation is fluid.

Per Heyman, other teams are showing interest in Freeman, but the Braves remain the favorites.

A six-year deal would bring Freeman through his age-37 season, something Atlanta may be looking to avoid. The eight-year, $135 million extension Freeman just completed is the largest contract in franchise history, but a six-year contract would likely take him north of that this time.

Nov. 15: Could Freddie head to the Bronx?
The Braves remain the presumed front-runners to sign Freeman, given everything he has meant to the organization over his career. But if he does leave Atlanta, where would he go?

The Yankees are one intriguing possibility, with MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reporting Monday that the team has met with Freeman’s representatives -- along with those of other lefty first basemen. New York makes sense both because of its need for a left-handed slugger at first base (Trade Deadline acquisition Anthony Rizzo is also a free agent), in addition to its well-known financial muscle.

Of course, the Yankees also have other offseason needs, most notably at shortstop. Given the high-priced options there, including the lefty-hitting Corey Seager, it’s unclear whether Freeman would be at the top of the club’s priority list. It also remains to be seen what Freeman would think of the Bronx as a destination, but the fit could be a logical one for both sides.

Nov. 6: Will Freeman's free agency mirror Pujols' in 2011?
Many expect Freeman will re-sign with the Braves, but it’s not a guarantee. The two sides engaged in contract talks during the 2021 season, but there was still a gap as of a Sept. 9 report from MLB Network insider Jon Heyman.

In an appearance Friday on MLB Network’s Hot Stove program, MLB Network insider Joel Sherman likened Freeman’s situation to that of Albert Pujols in 2011.

Like Pujols was at that point, Freeman is a free-agent first baseman heading into his age-32 season and coming off a run of more than a decade with a team that just won the World Series.

The Cardinals reportedly offered Pujols $210 million over 10 years, of which $30 million would have been deferred. Pujols opted to accept the Angels’ 10-year, $240 million contract.

“I think that Freddie Freeman and the Atlanta Braves will work their way back to each other, but once you let people out into the wild, egos come into this, somebody could say the wrong thing at the wrong time, somebody could insult somebody with an offer, and all of a sudden, Albert Pujols is with the Angels,” Sherman said.

It’s unlikely Freeman’s next contract will get up into the Pujols neighborhood, though Sherman isn’t ruling out a $200 million deal for the 32-year-old.

“I think the very floor, the least you can expect is six [years] at $180 [million],” Sherman said. “And quite frankly, right now the record for a first baseman on average is $31 million a year -- the Miguel Cabrera eight-year, $248 million extension. And so I keep thinking ... up in the $215 [million] to $225 [million] area for seven years is probably what it takes. I’m thinking the Braves, it’s not an area they’re comfortable going.”

Nov. 4: After bringing title to Atlanta, will Freeman depart?
For the first time in his career, Freeman is a free agent, and he hits the open market fresh off a World Series championship with the Braves.

The 2020 NL MVP has made it clear he wants to return to Atlanta, but his comments to Fox Sports' Frank Thomas after the Braves clinched their first title since 1995 may have revealed something about how negotiations have gone.

"Of course," the 32-year-old said when Thomas asked if he wanted to be a Brave for life. “Everyone knows that answer. Did I think I was going to be sitting here with no contract against the Astros? No I didn’t. But everyone knows this is a crazy game, a crazy business."

David O'Brien of The Athletic (subscription required) shared some insight on the industry perception surrounding contract talks between the Braves and Freeman, who just wrapped up an eight-year, $135 million deal that paid him $22 million in 2021.

"Most people in the industry thought that Freeman would've been signed last winter or at the latest during Spring Training, so the fact that he remains unsigned and is about to become a free agent has a lot of folks scratching their heads that the Braves haven't re-signed him yet."

Paul Goldschmidt's five-year $130 million extension with the Cardinals was thought to be a possible archetype for Freeman's next contract, but O'Brien speculates it could now cost upwards of $150 million over five or six years.

The largest free-agent deal in Braves history went to B.J. Upton for $75.25 million over five years after the 2012 season, and Freeman's previous contract was the largest contract of any type the team has ever signed.

Oct. 3: Freeman wants to stay with Braves
With his eight-year, $135 million contract with the Braves set to expire in November, Freeman will be reaching free agency for the first time in his career.

MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reported in September that Freeman and the Braves were still far apart in contract discussions, but the first baseman has indicated he doesn’t want to leave the only team he’s ever played for, and it remains highly likely he'll be back with Atlanta.

The left-handed slugger recently turned 32 and first base typically isn’t a highly valued position in free agency, but the five-year, $130 million extension Paul Goldschmidt signed with the Cardinals in 2019 seems like a reasonable benchmark.

Freeman has been one of the best and most consistent hitters in the game for nearly a decade, recording a .302/.394/.523 slash line (144 OPS+) and producing 39.4 bWAR since the beginning of 2013. Freeman followed up his 2020 MVP Award with another stellar year in '21, playing 159 games and hitting .300 with 31 homers, an .896 OPS (133 OPS+), 83 RBIs and an NL-leading 120 runs scored.