Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman has just finished up his third full season in the Majors. Those familiar with MLB pay scales, contract structures and service time requirements know that is typically the time frame associated with reaching eligibility for arbitration. The Braves franchise is not one that prefers to go through that process, especially when it comes to a player that has proven himself to be an asset to the team. As a result, GM Frank Wren often passes out single-year deals during the offseason like free samples at a supermarket. However, Freeman should not be given the usual treatment.
Freeman’s 2013 campaign was outstanding to say the least. Although the 24-year-old missed a 13-game stretch in April due to injury, he still managed to lead the team with 176 hits and 109 RBI. On top of that, the former second-round draft choice sported a very impressive .319/.396/.501 statistical line, made his first All-Star roster and is likely to have a solid showing in NL MVP balloting.
Since the beginning of the 2011 season, Freeman has been one of the absolute best bargains in baseball. He has earned slightly better than $500K per year while batting .287 with an average of 22 homers and 93 RBI over that span. Additionally, fans around Turner Field have routinely enjoyed his yoga style stretches at the bag and the industrial strength vacuum cleaner he fashions on his left hand.
Simply put, Freeman has quickly placed himself among the top all-around players at the position. With Brian McCann more than likely headed elsewhere now that his pre-arbitration contract that paid him $41.3 million has come to an end after seven seasons, the Braves should really consider giving their young first baseman something similar to that arrangement.