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Once the Atlanta Braves get Freddie Freeman to put pen to paper on a new contract, here are three moves the front office should consider doing next.
The only offseason move that is going to matter for the Atlanta Braves is if they are able to re-sign perennial All-Star first baseman Freddie Freeman or not.
Freeman has spent his entire professional career with the Braves since being drafted by Atlanta out of high school in 2007. At 32-years-old, he likely has one big contract left before he exits stage left and retires. Though Atlanta remains the favorite to re-up with their franchise cornerstone, nothing is official until the ink dries on a new contract. After that, then what?
Here are three moves the Braves front office should make in the aftermath of Freeman’s free agency finally coming to an end.
Atlanta Braves: 3 moves to make after Freddie Freeman hopefully re-signs
3. Extend 3B Austin Riley to a long-term extension before he gets too expensive
A big reason why the Braves won the World Series is they had arguably the best infield in baseball. While Freeman and second baseman Ozzie Albies are regulars at the Midsummer Classic, third baseman Austin Riley had a breakout year of his own. With the help Chipper Jones’ guidance in the cage, Riley refined his hitting approach to become a Silver Slugger with a Scott Rolen trajectory.
Riley will be in his age-25 season in 2022. The former first-round pick by Atlanta in the 2015 MLB Amateur Draft first becomes arbitration eligible in 2023 and would be hitting free agency in 2026. Again, that is a long way out, but the Braves being able to extend Albies and superstar outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. so early (and so cheaply) will help set up this team for success for years to come.
Assuming last year wasn’t a career year for him (how could it be?), Riley is only going to become more expensive as he matures as a major leaguer. Given that third base is a premium infield position, that will only increase his market value. Of course, the Braves have other bigger fish to fry before breaking the bank on an very premature contract extension to keep Riley in Atlanta.
However, getting him on the books well beyond his rookie deal would be massive for the Braves.