The decision that the baseball world has been waiting for has finally been made. A choice that Braves Country was waiting for ever since that 27th and final, triumphant out of Game 6 of the 2021 World Series was recorded has been made. An acquisition that became somewhat academic after the Braves became proactive and moved on with Matt Olson is finally official. Freddie Freeman has finally found his new team, and he’s going back home to Southern California.
While there were plenty of teams who were in the conversation to sign the former longtime first baseman for the Braves, it really felt like this was inevitable, wasn’t it? It was especially the case after Atlanta’s aforementioned trade-and-sign and when the Yankees decided to sign Anthony Rizzo. Once the domino of Freddie’s good friend went down, then it seemed like it wouldn’t be long until the other domino fell. Late Wednesday night was when it fell, and now Freddie’s going to be wearing Dodger Blue for the next six seasons.
Even though the Matt Olson trade and contract extension made this a certainty, it’s still going to be weird thinking of Freddie Freeman as just another dude who plays out West for a loaded Dodgers team. Whenever it’s like 1 a.m. Eastern Time and the Dodgers are down by three in the bottom of the eighth against the Diamondbacks and somehow end up winning it in extras for win number five in a row, it now goes from being a game where you’re like “Great, how did those dudes pull it out this time?” to “Welp, guess I gotta to check this out to see if Freddie had anything to do with it.” He’s still around and he’s still going to be doing well in a situation where he’s likely going to experience a decent amount of success, but it really does feel weird knowing that we’re not going to see a lot of him going forward.
As DJourn put it in his piece from yesterday, Freddie Freeman’s rise to stardom coincided with social media firmly placing itself in the middle of our culture. He was here when the Braves were burning through the final embers of the Chipper Jones era. When the team tore it down in the middle of the 2010s, Freddie remained. When the team returned to the top of the baseball world near the end of that decade and the start of this one, he was still there. Now he’s moving on and it feels like the best way to follow him is by catching up on Twitter highlight clips if you happen to be up late enough to follow the games. You know how it feels like Mike Trout is more of an urban legend than an actual ballplayer because all the incredible stuff he does usually happens past midnight on the East Coast? That’s about to become reality for fans who used to live and die with what Freddie did on a nightly basis.
Still, all good things have to end at some point and we really, really, really can’t complain about how things ended for Freddie Freeman in Atlanta. From his home run off of Josh Hader that put the Braves back into the NLCS to catching the final out to give the Braves their first World Series title since 1995, it really and truly was a storybook ending of a Postseason run for Freddie’s final season in Atlanta. It’s important to not gloss over how things ended for Freddie here because that doesn’t happen for everybody who has a long stint with one team. Long-term stories with happy endings are abnormal in the sports world! If a corny sports movie was made about the 2021 Braves, then the picture below would have a screen caption saying something like “After helping to bring the World Series title to Atlanta, Freddie Freeman went back home to play for the Dodgers.”
Sure, this is still a tough way to see things end for Freddie Freeman here. It sure seems like Alex Anthopoulos would’ve been fine with him staying and it’s pretty well known just how popular of a guy Freddie Freeman is with everybody in that clubhouse. With that being said, everybody did what they needed to do in this situation. AA couldn’t wait any longer on Freddie to make his decision, so he did what he felt was the right thing to do for the Braves — both now and going forward. Freddie Freeman did the same when it comes to his professional aspirations. Again, he’s joining a Dodgers lineup that looks absolutely incredible on paper and he’s doing so for the six years that he wanted all along. Freddie’s got a long-term deal that will allow him to play in his old stomping grounds and the Braves have gone from strength to strength in terms of their first base situation. The only question now is who will come out ahead when these two teams clash against each other pretty soon.
The Dodgers will host the Braves for three games starting on April 18, and the Braves will return the favor in Cobb County starting June 24. Smart money would suggest that those won’t be the only two series these two teams play against each other but even if they are, those two series will be incredibly interesting. I’m sure people will try to turn those series into grand spectacles and try to make grand statements based on who won or who struck out or who hit one to the moon or not. Truth is, we’re not going to know who “won” this deal until a few years down the road. We’ll have time for a retrospective conversation by then.
Instead and here in the present, I’m just going to be struck by the weirdness of it all. I know I’m going to sound like a broken record, but it’s just going to be very weird having to see Freddie Freeman as just another danger man in the mine field that is the Dodgers lineup instead of looking forward to seeing if Freddie can figure out how to crack whoever Los Angeles is putting on the mound for the night. The home series in June is going to be particularly strange.
I’d also imagine that that moment of weirdness is going to pass pretty quickly. Once the fans here give him his well-deserved standing ovation as he comes to the plate and his at-bat comes and goes, it’ll likely just go back to normal. The Braves will be trying their hardest to beat the Dodgers and vice versa. It’ll be business as usual from that point forward and the sentimentality should be completely gone if there’s any more October encounters between these two teams. Freddie Freeman and the Braves have had the same goals for years now — he’ll just be pursuing them in Los Angeles instead of the Atlanta metro area.
If you’re feeling down about Freddie Freeman leaving, then that’s understandable. For hardcore Braves fans, he’s been a parasocial part of our lives for a decade and nearly a half. If you’re feeling concerned about the fact that he went to the Dodgers, that’s fine too. They’re going to be extremely tough to beat! The good news is that the Braves have beaten the Dodgers before and thanks to the work that Alex Anthopoulos and the front office has been doing so far, they can still beat them again. It’s all still incredibly weird, but it’s all still going to be fine around here. Freddie Freeman wouldn’t want it any other way for the Braves.