Report: Freddie Freeman, Braves Have Gap in Contract Talks, Could Hit Free Agency

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IISeptember 9, 2021

Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman (5) in the first inning of a baseball game Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
AP Photo/David Zalubowski

A "gap" reportedly exists between the Atlanta Braves and first baseman Freddie Freeman as the two sides look to hammer out a deal in advance of the reigning National League MVP hitting free agency this winter.

"Freddie Freeman and Braves have been talking but there’s still a gap so free agency appears a surprisingly strong possibility," Jon Heyman of MLB Network tweeted. "Both sides want to get it done and that’s the likelihood eventually."

Freeman, who turns 32 years old on Sunday, should command another lucrative deal as he finishes out his eight-year, $135 million contract. He's hitting .292 (.886 OPS) with 28 home runs, 73 RBI and an MLB-high 103 runs.

Thanks in part to his efforts, Atlanta sits first in the National League East as the team looks for its fourth straight division title.

Freeman has played his entire 12-year MLB career in Atlanta. He's a five-time All-Star and two-time Silver Slugger who also won the Gold Glove in 2018. He's led Atlanta in WAR four times during his tenure, per Baseball-Reference.

Freeman has never hit free agency before. He signed his current eight-year deal in February 2014 and avoided arbitration in the process.

Now it appears that free agency is a distinct possibility for one of MLB's best first basemen. Naturally, Atlanta would want to avoid that from happening considering that he's been the team's best and most consistent player over the past decade. He's been a rock in the lineup for years and an integral part of the team's division title run.

Although his numbers this year have naturally taken a dip from his phenomenal 2020 campaign (1.102 OPS in the pandemic-shortened season), his presence has helped keep Atlanta in the playoff mix despite losing the electric Ronald Acuna Jr. to a torn ACL on July 10.

Since the All-Star break, Freeman has turned it up a notch, hitting .324 (.924 OPS) with nine homers, 23 RBI and 45 runs. Atlanta was 44-45 before the break but now sits at 73-65.

Freeman has played a huge role in that turnaround, which is another reason why he's set for another massive nine-figure payday, whether it's through an extension now or free agency later.