The Freddie Freeman sweepstakes are far from over, but with the lockout still underway, it will be some time before the Braves’ first baseman finds a home this offseason.
MLB Trade Rumors’ Tim Dierkes recently looked at a few potential suitors for Freeman in the event that he doesn’t return to Atlanta, including the Dodgers. And while Los Angeles has long been a rumored destination for Freddie, Tim has a few reservations about the team’s ultimate desire to strike a deal.
The total years
Dierkes’ biggest issue with any deal for Freeman is the number of years it would likely take to pry him away from the Braves. With multiple reports stating that adding a 6th year was the biggest hold-up in a potential deal between Atlanta and Freddie, giving him that guaranteed money might be necessary for any team to lure him away.
Handing out multi-year deals to aging players has never been Andrew Friedman’s preferred way of doing business, but there are recent examples to showcase that he is willing to do so for players he believes in. As Dierkes himself mentions, the deals for AJ Pollock and Mookie Betts are recent examples of Andrew Friedman opening up the checkbook for long-term deals that take players through their mid to late 30’s.
The bottom line? If Friedman believes in your potential to help the Dodgers, he will find a way to make it work. Freddy Freeman is one of the rare players in today’s game that has proven to be as consistent as they come, which makes him the perfect exception to the long-term contract trend for LA.
The loss of draft picks
The second argument (and perhaps the most pertinent) is the draft pick forfeiture that would be needed in any deal for Freeman. There are two factors to consider here: Freeman’s qualifying offer status and the Dodgers’ competitive balance status.
With Freeman turning down the $18.4 million qualifying offer from the Braves this offseason, any team that signs him outside of the Braves will have to forfeit draft picks and international signing bonus pool money. The total draft capital that needs to be forfeited depends on a team’s competitive balance tax status, otherwise known as the luxury tax.
Since the Dodgers are one of the teams to have paid the luxury tax in 2022, they would be subject to the heaviest penalties if they were to sign Freeman or any other free agent who declined a qualifying offer. The damage? Forfeiting their 2nd and 5th highest draft picks in 2022 along with $1 million in international signing bonus pool money.
This is a heavy price to pay for any team, but the Dodgers are one of the few who might be comfortable with the tradeoff. Their continued success in finding hidden gems in the draft and internationally could give them peace of mind if they were to make a move. Either way, Freddie Freeman is one of the few remaining players who would be worth the cost.
There are plenty of hurdles that would need to be cleared for Freeman to sign with the Dodgers, but there is a path there if the team chooses to follow it. While the price would be steep, they need to replace the left-handed production of Corey Seager with a proven bat. A 6-year deal would take Freeman through his age-38 season, but his production is based on more than power. There is reason to believe that he would be able to age well, especially with the DH likely coming to the National League in the near future.
Los Angeles is the city of stars, and Freeman would shine brightly for the Dodgers if given the chance. With so much uncertainty going into the 2022 season, signing the veteran infielder would go a long way toward another World Series run.