Whenever the icy lockout between MLB and MLBPA thaws and business, as usual, resumes – things are going to be hot and heavy both on the free agency and trade fronts. While everyone, including Cubs fans, are focused on Carlos Correa, another position player standout, Freddie Freeman, is still without a team and his decision could have a domino effect across the game.
Freeman has spent his entire career with the Atlanta Braves. Last year, he finally got over the hump and helped the team capture its first World Series in more than two decades. So what did the organization give him as a reward for his efforts? Well, so far, nothing – and it’s led to speculation he could wind up playing somewhere else moving forward.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription required) wrote a piece on Monday morning detailing how things could quickly go off the rails if you’re still assuming Freeman winds up back in Atlanta. He confirmed that the Braves had discussions with Oakland prior to the lockout regarding All-Star first baseman Matt Olson. Obviously, the addition of Olson would likely spell the end of Freeman’s tenure in Georgia – and that’s when things get weird.
Say the Athletics send Olson to Atlanta. That’s a reasonable thought given the club is looking to drastically shed payroll. Where does Freeman wind up from there? New York? Los Angeles? Toronto? No one really seems sure because at the start of the offseason, it felt like a foregone conclusion he’d re-sign with Atlanta.
These two dominos, intertwined through and through, will likely be the first to fall – and critical ones if you’re Anthony Rizzo who, prior to 2021 had, like Freeman, spent his entire career with one team: the Chicago Cubs. Then, the wheels came off in June and July and Jed Hoyer sent Rizzo to the Bronx in a deadline deal.
Chicago Cubs: Anthony Rizzo will wind up being somebody’s fallback choice
Several of the teams listed above – Atlanta, Toronto and New York – could wind up players for Rizzo if they miss out on the likes of Freeman and Olson. Boston makes sense to a lot of folks, as well, and I’ll stop you now because a reunion on the North Side is little more than a far-fetched hope as things currently stand.
Maybe his market totally craters and he comes back, but I doubt it. Players and their agents are going to be anxious to find new homes in short order once baseball business resumes, but if you’re Rizzo and his team at Sports One Athlete Management, the waiting game seems like the best course of action – at least until Freeman and Olson come off the board.