It won’t be easy, but they might have a shot.
While it’s hard to see All-Star first baseman and 2020 NL MVP winner Freddie Freeman leaving the Braves in free agency, especially after his team captured a World Series title last season, one MLB insider believes that the Yankees could be among several clubs in the mix for his services after the lockout ends.
According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Braves’ front office is playing a dangerous game by protracting their negotiations with Freeman, who has expressed his desire to return to the only team he has ever known in the big leagues. Rosenthal explained how this tactic could wind up back firing on Atlanta, due to the fact that teams like the Yankees, Blue Jays and Dodgers could put on a full-court press for Freeman in order to lure him away from the Braves.
So, with first base being a major area of need for the Yankees, now would be the time for general manager Brian Cashman to strike. That is because by signing Freeman, the Yankees would essentially be making a franchise altering move.
The left-handed hitting first baseman would be the perfect impact bat in the middle of the Yankees’ order, which would help balance a right-handed heavy lineup. Freeman, 32, hits for both average and power (career .295 batting average, .893 OPS and 271 home runs), while also bringing Gold Glove caliber defense with him at first base as well.
While Freeman’s previous career-high for homers in a single-season is 38, the short porch at Yankee Stadium could potentially transform him into a 40-home run type hitter. And if they add Freeman, it will make up for the likelihood of inserting a stopgap option at shortstop until top prospects Oswald Peraza or Anthony Volpe are ready for the majors. Not to mention, acquiring a defensive specialist at short such as Andrelton Simmons would be a much easier sell to the fan base for Cashman and the Yankees if they do so after bringing in Freeman to play first base.
Freeman has spent his entire 12-year big-league career with the Braves. And although Rosenthal admitted that Freeman wouldn’t be as comfortable in New York, Los Angeles or Toronto as opposed to Atlanta, the Braves are forcing him to weigh his options.
Freeman is a five-time All-Star and three-time Silver Slugger Award recipient. Prior to the lockout, ESPN predicted Freeman to sign a six-year, $156 million deal, while The Athletic pegged him to receive a six-year, $187 million contract.
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