Long-time Braves first baseman and 2020 NL MVP Freddie Freeman is playing in the last year of his current deal. It sounds like Freeman's contract situation will not change in the coming days, weeks and possibly months ahead.
Prior to Tuesday's game in the Bronx against the Yankees, Freeman spoke with reporters via Zoom and mentioned that there haven't been negotiations on a possible contract extension and that he doesn't expect any to happen "any time soon." He also indicated he doesn't want any possible negotiations to be a "distraction." (via Jeff Schultz of The Athletic).
Though it certainly isn't a hard-and-fast rule, this seems to be the line most players want to walk. Those who like their situation and want to stay put seemingly love to talk in spring training about it, but once Opening Day happens, they'd rather just focus on playing the game instead of trying to go through the grind of a full MLB season while also trying to weigh such a big life decision. Just in looking at big-name, veteran first basemen, we've already seen the same thing with Anthony Rizzo and the Cubs.
Of course, Freeman has proven a much better player at this point and it's possible the Cubs are forced into a rebuild while the Braves should be contending for the next several years.
Freeman is their veteran centerpiece that bridged the gap from contender to contender with the rebuild in between. He came up on a playoff team and saw the postseason three of his first four years before a disappointing season and then a teardown. Now the Braves have won the NL East three straight years and made the NLCS for the first time since 1999 last season. In the process, he grew into a team leader for the younger core.
Freeman hit .341/.462/.640 (182 OPS+) while leading the majors in hits and doubles last season, winning his first MVP. He's finished in the top eight of MVP voting five times. At 31, he's still in his prime and should be for another few years.
It would seem a big mistake for the Braves to let Freeman walk at the end of the year. There's plenty of time to prevent that from happening, but it seems like they already let one window here close with Freeman not wanting to discuss a new deal during the season.