Freddie Freeman heads home to Southern California and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The first-time free agent and the Dodgers agreed to a $162 million, six-year deal, according to a person familiar with the deal. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Wednesday night because the team had not yet announced the move.
Freeman was the 2020 National League MVP. The first baseman helped the Atlanta Braves win their fourth straight NL East title last season and their first World Series championship since 1995.
Atlanta was supposed to try to lock up Freeman, who had never played for another club. But no deal was struck before the work stoppage began in early December and then the Braves traded for All-Star first baseman Matt Olson from Oakland and signed him to an eight-year, $168 million contract this week. marking the end of Freeman’s long tenure in Atlanta.
Now the 32-year-old five-time All-Star will play not far from where he grew up in Orange County. He already lives in the area in the off season.
Freeman is from Fountain Valley, where he supported the Los Angeles Angels as a child.
Adding Freeman gives the Dodgers an even more impressive lineup. He will join former MVPs Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger, along with Trea Turner, Max Muncy and Justin Turner. The lineup was already among the best in the NL last year with 237 home runs and 5.12 runs per game to go with 612 walks and a .759 OPS.
Freeman gives the Dodgers a left-handed bat in the middle of the order to replace Corey Seager, who signed with the Texas Rangers as a free agent.
Muncy, a left-handed first baseman, can move to second base or serve as a designated hitter, which becomes permanent in the NL this season.
Muncy was sidelined for the entire postseason last year after suffering an elbow injury in a collision early on the final day of the regular season. Manager Dave Roberts has said that Muncy should be available for opening day on April 8, but he isn’t sure if Muncy will be ready to start at first.
Freeman, a career .295 hitter, has topped 20 home runs eight times with a career-high 38 in 2019. He has a pair of 100-RBI seasons on his resume and another three years in which he drove in more than 90 races. He has three Silver Slugger Awards and a Gold Glove for his defensive work.
Freeman was a second-round draft pick by Atlanta in 2007 and quickly worked his way up the farm system. He was called up in September 2010, making his major league debut less than two weeks shy of his 21st birthday.
Freeman took over as the starter at first base the following year, finishing second in NL Rookie of the Year voting behind Braves teammate Craig Kimbrel after hitting .282 with 21 home runs and 76 RBIs. .
Since then, Freeman has been a stalwart in the Braves’ lineup, even as the perennial playoff contender went through a painful rebuilding job after winning the NL East title in 2013.
Freeman endured four straight losing seasons as Atlanta rebuilt its frazzled farm system, but the team made it clear he was the centerpiece of its overhaul by signing him to an eight-year, $135 million contract that was the longest and biggest in history. the history of the franchise.
In 2018, with Freeman surrounded by a new group of budding young stars like Ronald Acuña Jr. and Ozzie Albies, the Braves climbed back to the top of the NL East to begin a new streak of divisional dominance.
Freeman won his MVP award in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, hitting .341 with 13 home runs and 53 RBIs in 60 games, a remarkable performance after enduring a bout with COVID-19 that left him worried if he would survive.
Atlanta won a postseason series for the first time since 2001, two of them, in fact, before blowing a 3-1 lead and losing to the Dodgers in the NL Championship Series.
Recovering from that disappointment, the Braves won their fourth straight division title in 2021 and then captured their first World Series championship in 26 years by beating the Houston Astros.
Freeman had another stellar season, leading the league in plate appearances (695) and runs (120) while hitting .300 with 31 home runs and 83 RBIs. Fittingly, he caught the final out of the World Series on a throw from shortstop Dansby Swanson.
As the Braves celebrated their championship at Minute Maid Park, Freeman made it clear that he wanted to stay in Atlanta.
“This is a crazy game, a crazy business,” he said. “But everyone knows that this is where my heart is.
“I have been here since I was 17 years old, almost half of my life I have been in this organization,” he continued. “It means everything to put on the Braves uniform every day.”
Now, he’ll wear Dodgers blue.
AP sportswriter Paul Newberry in Atlanta contributed to this report.
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