MLB Free Agents: Latest on Noah Syndergaard, Freddie Freeman and Adam Wainwright
Three veteran players, excellent for their clubs over the course of their careers, face uncertainty as free agency approaches in Major League Baseball.
Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman, Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard and Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright have excelled at the highest levels for their respective teams but how much longer they remain with those clubs is in question as contract talks loom.
There is a very real chance of relocation for at least one of them while two feel cautiously positive about their potential returns to the clubs they've called "home" for the entirety of their careers.
Who might be on the outs, who doesn't want to be and what are the chances that they leave?
Freddie Freeman Doesn't Want to Leave Atlanta
Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman might be focusing on beating up on the Philadelphia Phillies, winning an NL East pennant and advancing to MLB's postseason, but potential free agency looms overhead like a swelling black cloud.
"I am an Atlanta Brave," he told Bob Nightengale of USA Today. He also reiterated that he doesn't want to leave the team. This, despite the potential to be one of the highest-paid free agents on the market were he to explore other options.
I’ve been in this organization for 15 years, nearly half of my life, and it means everything to me. I am an Atlanta Brave. I love his organization. I don’t know anything else."
Teammate and veteran reliever Luke Jackson denounced the idea of Freeman wearing another team's uni. "I know he’s a free agent, but none of us can see Freddie ever wearing another uniform. I just can’t. He is the Braves. We don’t go anywhere without him," he told Nightengale. "This is his team. We’ve got a lot of good players here, but everything revolves around him. You never want to let him down."
Even if Freeman were to hit the open market, it does not necessarily guarantee his departure, especially as he makes his passion for Atlanta and the Braves organization apparent. If anything, negotiating with other teams puts him in a place of power with his current one.
It also puts the Braves in the position of being the villain; the organization that could have easily maneuvered other salaries around to make space for its most beloved player. If Freeman does not return to the Braves, it will not be out of a lack of desire to finish his career where he had devoted it to that point.
Instead, it will be on Atlanta's front office for not making it work.
Whether the NLCS runners up are willing to put in the work, and tie significant time and money to the 32 year-old player, has been and remains the question.
Noah Syndergaard Hopeful for Return to Mets
Noah Syndergaard is "fairly confident" he and the New York Mets will reach a deal to keep him in Gotham for at least another year, reported Tim Britton of The Athletic.
For that to happen, the Mets would have to tag the right-handed pitcher with a qualifying offer. If Syndergaard accepted, he would be back at Citi Field for another season. If not, he would be free to sign with another team, with the Mets receiving draft compensation in return.
Syndergaard missed the 2020 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery and just returned to the mound Tuesday night, retiring all three batters he faced and striking two off them out. He topped out at 96mph, a optimistic sign for a player whose future was in doubt following his much-publicized injury.
He signed a $9.7 million deal to stay with the Mets this season.
A Cy Young-quality player before the injury, he will look to prove he can excel at that level. "Hopefulness" and "speculation" have him believing it will be with the Mets.
Optimistic Start to Contract Talks Between Adam Wainwright, Cardinals
Adam Wainwright is a life-long St. Louis Cardinal and as the team prepares for its latest trip to the postseason, he is optimistic that he will remain with the club, per Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Dispatch.
"Wainwright and the club are encouraged by introductory negotiations and are hopeful they’ll agree on a contract in the near future for the veteran’s return," the report states.
Wainwright turned in his lowest ERA since 2015 this season, won 17 games and added three complete games. He is still a very competent pitcher at age 40 and a beloved figure within the organization. He will win games but it is his veteran leadership that makes him invaluable.
Catcher Yadier Molina, himself having just re-signed for another year in St. Louis, told Katie Woo of The Athletic, "in the offseason, almost every day (Wainwright) would call me asking, ‘What are you going to do, you need to sign. Now it’s my turn to do that. It’s my turn to call him every day and tell him, ‘Hey, you need to come back because I can’t do this by myself.’”
The players want Wainwright back and it's a good bet the St. Louis faithful do, too. Much like Freeman and Syndergaard, it will be up to the team to decide how much it wants the veteran player back in the fold next season.
Before then, Wainwright and Co. will look to bring another championship to the club he has called home since 2005.