Free-agent first baseman and Orange County native Freddie Freeman has agreed to terms with the Los Angeles Dodgers on a six-year contract worth $162 million, report Jeff Passan and Kylie McDaniel of ESPN. MLB Network's Jon Morosi was the first to report that the two sides were closing in on a deal late Wednesday night. The team confirmed the signing on Friday.
Freeman, 32 years old, initially seemed like a lock to return to the Atlanta Braves following last fall's World Series victory. The two sides were unable to reach an agreement prior to the lockout, however, with Freeman desiring more years than the Braves would give. When the Braves acquired Matt Olson from the Athletics on Monday, it sealed Freeman's fate. Freeman said goodbye to the Braves and their fans in an Instagram post on Wednesday.
In his negotiations with the Braves, the inclusion of a sixth contract year was said to be the sticking point. Freeman in the end got that sixth year from the Dodgers, and he'll be under contract through his age-37 campaign.
The Dodgers, Yankees, Rangers, Blue Jays, and Rays all showed some level of interest in Freeman, who entered the offseason ranked as the fifth best free agent by CBS Sports. Here's what we wrote at the time:
Freeman is a sensational hitter who hasn't posted an OPS+ of less than 130 since he was a 22-year-old in 2012. He's also a mighty fine first baseman, and he's become a bastion of durability as of late: over the last four years, he's appeared in 539 of the Braves' 545 games (that's 98.9 percent, for those without access to a calculator). It's to be seen what kind of term Freeman seeks, but on paper he seems like someone who should age gracefully.
Freeman batted .300/.393/.503 (133 OPS+) with 31 home runs last season, running his career line to .295/.384/.509 (138 OPS+). He also made his fifth All-Star Game and won his third Silver Slugger Award. In the past, Freeman has won the Gold Glove Award. He was voted as the 2020 National League's Most Valuable Player, too.
Freeman joins a powerhouse Dodgers team that last season led the National League in runs scored and ranked second in OPS despite the mild run-suppressing tendencies of Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers can certainly fit Freeman in the lineup, particularly now that the universal DH is in force. In L.A. Freeman will occupy his usual position of first base, while incumbent Max Muncy figures to split time between second base and DH. Chris Taylor, meantime, should return to his multi-positional role that puts him in the lineup on a daily basis. That lineup also includes the likes of Mookie Betts, Trea Turner, Justin Turner, Cody Bellinger, and Will Smith.
The Dodgers, coming off a 106-win campaign, were probably already the consensus favorites in the NL, and the addition of Freeman no doubt solidifies that status and increases their chances of winning the World Series for the second time in three years.