Freeman elected free agency Saturday rather than accept an outright assignment to Triple-A Columbus. Freeman filled a bench role for Cleveland during the abbreviated 2020 campaign, hitting a modest .237/.302/.316 in his 43 trips to the plate. That slash line looks a whole lot like his career .232/.315/.330 career marks, meaning the 33-year-old will almost certainly be searching for a minor-league deal this winter.
Freeman was outrighted to Triple-A Columbus on Friday. Freeman provided defensive versatility for Cleveland in 2020, but he only logged 38 at-bats, slashing .237/.302/.316 with three RBI and 11 strikeouts. The 31-year-old was more effective at the plate in 2019, and another team could take a chance on him to serve as a defensive option at multiple positions.
Freeman has started just eight games this season and managed just three in Cleveland's last 21 contests. Cleveland's infield has stayed very healthy this season, so bench players like Freeman haven't been needed much. A total of eight starts in the infield have gone to players other than Opening Day starters Carlos Santana, Cesar Hernandez, Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor. Freeman has received five of them, with Yu Chang receiving three. Freeman has done little of note in his limited playing time, hitting .229/.300/.314 through 40 plate appearances.
Freeman will be included on the Indians' 30-man, Opening Day roster, Ryan Lewis of the Akron Beacon Journal reports. The 32-year-old was in close competition with Christian Arroyo in spring training to make the original Opening Day roster, and both players will be present in the team's initial 30-man group. Freeman had a solid showing in his first significant major-league action in 2019, posting a .752 OPS with four home runs and 24 RBI in 213 plate appearances.
Freeman will be a part of the Indians' 60-man player pool this season. While Freeman isn't on the 40-man roster, he had impressed enough in spring training that he may have broken camp with the big club under normal circumstances. The Indians were initially going to have to choose between rostering Freeman or Christian Arroyo, but now they will be able to find MLB playing time for both utility infielders this season.
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