Freddie Freeman is officially a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers. On Friday, Los Angeles announced they have signed Freeman to a six-year contract, four days after the Atlanta Braves closed the book on the Freeman era with . Freeman returning to Atlanta seemed fait accompli going into the offseason. Instead, he is now a Dodger.
"I didn't think I'd ever get to free agency if we're being honest about it," Freeman said during his introductory press conference Friday. "... The emotions were all over the place. When you spend someplace for 15 years and you see that chapter got closed right then and there, I didn't really speak for a couple of hours, just trying to figure it all out."
Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos fought back tears while speaking to reporters following the Olson trade earlier this week because it marked the end of the Freeman era in Atlanta. "I saw 'em. That's all I'll say," Freeman said about the tears. He made it clear Friday he was hurt by what he called a lack of communication from the Braves prior to the Olson trade.
"The communication wasn't all there in the offseason. I got two phone calls -- one before the lockout and one once it lifted," Freeman said about contract talks with the Braves. "... I got more from Andrew (Friedman) in a couple of hours."
Friedman, the Dodgers president of baseball operations, admitted he thought the chances of signing Freeman were "slim" heading into the offseason. Freeman said longtime Dodgers infielder Justin Turner recruited him heavily -- "His name popped up on my phone quite a bit during this process," he said -- as did Dodgers manager Dave Roberts.
"Family is everything to me. I don't want to be anywhere else right now, this is home," said Freeman, a Southern California native.
Prior to the owners' lockout, the Braves reportedly offered Freeman a five-year, $135 million contract (that is Paul Goldschmidt's contract with the Cardinals plus $1 million per year) while Freeman was seeking a six-year deal in the $180 million range. Once the lockout ended, Atlanta moved on to Olson because they had other moves to make and needed to get first base settled.
"First base has been something we've been wanting to settle, and it felt like it needed to be the first domino for our offseason because we have other things to do," Anthopoulos told reporters, including Justin Toscano of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, after the Olson trade. "I know every team's going through the same thing, trying to build their team. Tough trade to make."
Freeman, 32, will earn $162 million during his six-year contract. The 2020 NL MVP authored a .300/.393/.503 line with 31 home runs in 2021, and he joins a lineup that includes fellow former MVPs Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger, as well as other high-end performers like Justin Turner, Trea Turner, Max Muncy, and Will Smith. It is a stacked lineup, to be sure.
The Dodgers lost Corey Seager to free agency prior to the lockout and there are some questions in rotation given Clayton Kershaw's injury concerns and Trevor Bauer's extended administrative leave. That said, Los Angeles is again on the short list of the game's best teams and a legitimate World Series contenders. They went to (at least) the NLCS for the fifth time in six years in 2021.