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SBD/February 5, 2014/Franchises
Free-Wheeling: Braves Sign Freddie Freeman To Club-Record $135M Contract
Published February 5, 2014
THE NEW FACE OF THE FRANCHISE: CBSSPORTS.com's Matt Snyder wrote Freeman's contract "tells you that the franchise is fully committed" to him being the "face of the franchise for a better part of a decade" (CBSSPORTS.com, 2/4). ESPN.com's Dave Schoenfield wrote Freeman's contract is "a safe bet for the Braves." Schoenfield: "You get Freeman's age-24 through age-31 seasons, exactly the years you want for a first baseman who doesn't run well" (ESPN.com, 2/4). MLB Network’s Jon Hart said, “You have a chance to get him during his prime, and I think you have a chance to send a great message to your fan base that you're going to keep your core star players intact. I think it sends a good message top to bottom in the organization” (“Clubhouse Confidential,” MLB Network, 2/4). In Atlanta, Mark Bradley writes, "If you’re a Braves fan, you cannot be anything but ecstatic over Tuesday’s doings, the Freeman part especially" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 2/5).
ONLY KIMBREL LEFT AT ARBITRATION: In Atlanta, O'Brien notes the Braves in signing Freeman and Heyward avoided "going to hearings with two of their three young stars who were unsigned after last month’s arbitration salary-swap day." But unless they "work out a multiyear deal with Kimbrel before Feb. 17 -- and that seems unlikely -- the Braves face the possibility" of paying him $9M in '14. That would "obliterate the record first-year arbitration salary for a reliever and represent nearly a 13-fold raise" over Kimbrel’s '13 salary. If Kimbrel is awarded the $9M salary, he could "expect to get at least" $14M in '15 if he "hasn’t signed a long-term extension and goes through the arbitration process again." Kimbrel at that price "could strain the payroll" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 2/5). ESPN.com's Buster Olney writes the Braves "almost certainly cannot afford to keep Kimbrel." But the contract with Freeman "gives the Braves' front office a greater foundation on which to explain to the fan base that difficult choices have to be made -- and while a trade of Kimbrel will be very difficult, whenever it happens, the signing of Freeman could make it easier for fans of the Braves to swallow" (ESPN.com, 2/5).