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With the universal designated hitter now in place in the National League, the Braves have far less to worry about in any Freddie Freeman contract talks.
The hold-up here, of course, is that Freeman wants a six-year contract, while the Braves would rather the deal be worth five seasons or less. Atlanta is cautious of signing Freeman, who is over the age of 30, to a contract that will pay him elite first base money well into his near-40’s.
Freeman wants around $30 million per season, which is a reasonable ask given the current free agent market. Once the lockout ends (if it ends), expect Freeman’s market to heat up rather quickly.
Now, without fear that he’ll deteriorate defensively and take away from the Braves’ overall defensive game on the diamond, they can sign him to that six-year deal, should they choose.
Freddie Freeman contract demands more reasonable now
Freeman’s demands are far more reasonable now that a universal DH has been established.
The 32-year-old won’t be playing primarily at first base forever, despite his current status as a perennial NL MVP contender. Eventually, his range and defensive ability at first will get worse, just as it does for all players as they age. While not necessarily shortstop, centerfield or the hot corner at third base, first base does have equal importance as they must touch the ball on the majority of ground-ball outs.
So, when or if Freeman become unplayable in the field, the Braves could move him to DH, where his bat should still be a force to be reckoned with.
In theory, the Braves’ gripe should now be solved. We’ll see if they follow through, or if the financial terms have weighed on the front office more than they originally let on.