I have been meaning to write this for a while now. But with school and work, I just have not been able to get around to it. Until now, that is.
Last week, I wrote this story about the Atlanta Braves, and why 2014 would be a critical year for their organization. With so many of their core players entering the arbitration process at the same time, they will also be getting expensive rather quickly. I also made the case that if they should sign one player to a long-term deal, Freddie Freeman would be their guy.
Indeed he was.
As most of you are well aware of by now, the Braves locked-up Freeman by signing him to an eight-year, $135 million deal through the 2021 season. In 2013, only his age 23 season, Freeman posted a .319/.396/.501 line while slugging 23 homers and driving 109 runs, good for fourth in baseball and second in the National League (tied with Jay Bruce in both cases). He appeared in his first All-Star Game and also finished fifth in the NL MVP voting. His .396 OBP was good for ninth in baseball and sixth in the National League, and his 66 walks were thirteenth in the senior circuit.
This is a guy that you build a franchise around. While Jason Heyward may have a higher ceiling, Freeman is as consistent as they come. He has become an exceptional player at a very young age, and he still has plenty of potential to be tapped into. The Braves are also getting his prime years during this extension, as the deal covers his age 24-31 seasons.
The Braves deserve a ton of credit for locking this guy up. Now their attention should turn to Andrelton Simmons, who could be one of the best defensive shortstops of all time if his sophomore year was any indication.