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There is an incredibly smart way for the Atlanta Braves to give Freddie Freeman his money.
The Atlanta Braves would be foolish if they did not pay Freddie Freeman what he is worth.
The Atlanta franchise cornerstone is in the midst of his high-profile free agency. He supposedly wants a six-year deal worth $180 million. That would have the 32-year-old first baseman with the Braves through his age-37 season, and a little bit past his 38th birthday. Freeman is the most important Brave since his mentor Chipper Jones manned the hot corner. He cannot sign elsewhere.
Here is how the Braves can give Freeman what he wants and do so in an intelligent fashion.
Atlanta Braves: How to sign Freddie Freeman to his multi-year extension
This is simple really. Make sure that Freeman gets his six years an $180 million, but make the contract front-loaded. This will guarantee he will not be making upwards of $30 million in the latter part of his deal, potentially after he declines. In case he plays out of his mind into his mid-30s, the contract should include a player opt-out after, say, the fourth or fifth year of said deal. The gives Freeman some leverage, if he wants it.
Look. This team has won the NL East four years in a row. They are coming off their first World Series Championship in 26 years. This is a massive baseball brand with a nationwide following. The Battery could not have been more packed than it was in October, in the middle of a global pandemic nonetheless. The Braves cannot claim to be cash poor after what just happened.
The question remains what will the Braves be like at the end of this contract. Surely, they will not have won the NL East 10 years in a row. Nobody is touching the 14-straight division titles record, so don’t be silly. The division is too good for that happen ever again. Should the team stink and Freeman be a shell of himself in 2026, so what? He has already earned his massive pay day.
The only way the Braves get this wrong is if they let Freeman walk out the door for nothing.