Boston Red Sox: Braves 1B Freddie Freeman an Option?


Despite finishing in last place in the American League East last season, the Boston Red Sox clearly have visions of being playoff contenders this season. With the trade for Craig Kimbrel, and rumors connecting them to many high-priced free agents, it is clear that president Dave Dombrowski is ready to be aggressive in stocking up the team for 2016.

While the Red Sox traded four very good prospects in the deal for Kimbrel, they still have one of the best minor league systems in all of baseball. Their extreme depth in the minor leagues allows for multiple major prospect for MLB talent trades if they wish to do so.

The Atlanta Braves are clearly willing to trade-off their major league assets, and this could be an opportunity for the Red Sox to strike. After trading shortstop Andrelton Simmons to the Los Angeles Angels, everyone seems to be up for grabs. According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, that also includes first baseman Freddie Freeman.

"“Officials from three different clubs told me that the Braves have indeed shopped first baseman Freddie Freeman, with one saying such a possibility was “the talk of the (Arizona) Fall League” among scouts about 10 days ago.” Rosenthal stated."

Rosenthal also said that the Braves are “shopping everyone owed money,” and specifically mentioned starting pitcher Julio Teheran, and outfielders Cameron Maybin and Nick Markakis to go along with Freeman.

I could certainly see the Red Sox showing some interest in Teheran, but after the Kimbrel trade, I expect them to attack their starting pitching needs in free agency. Freeman on the other hand, is a type of player who does not come available very often. With many prospects who would undoubtedly entice the Braves in a trade, I think the Red Sox need to be aggressively pursuing a deal for Freeman.

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At 26-years-old, Freeman has yet to even begin his prime years, and is under contract through the 2021 season at a reasonable price. He is an elite defender at first base with a strong bat from the left side of the plate.

Freeman is a career .285/.366/.466 hitter with 104 career home runs and 163 career doubles in five full seasons as the Braves’ first baseman. Freeman’s best season came in 2013 where he hit .319/.396/.501 with 23 home runs and 33 doubles, and was in fifth place in MVP voting that year. Freeman backed that All-Star season up with another All-Star campaign in 2014 where he hit .288/.386/.461.

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The Braves’ slugger was solid last season, hitting .276/.370/.471 with 18 home runs, but he only played in 118 games on the season. Freeman battled a wrist injury and a strained oblique, which sent him to the disabled list two separate times. It was the first time in his career, where Freeman dealt with serious injuries.

Freeman is an incredibly patient hitter with great control over the strike zone. He also shows great contact ability, and solid power. His Home/Road splits are fairly even, but I have a hard time believing that Freeman’s power numbers would not increase playing in Fenway Park as opposed to the pitcher friendly Turner Field.

If the season were to begin today, Hanley Ramirez would likely be the Red Sox’s starting first baseman. Ramirez had an ugly opening season with the Red Sox, and they would love nothing more to get rid of him. Before trading for Freeman, the Red Sox would likely have to find a taker for Ramirez. That may not be easy, but I imagine they could find an AL team with a Designated Hitter need to take a chance on him eventually.

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Freeman is a very good player with a ton of project-ability going forward. It would undoubtedly cost the Red Sox a lot in a trade for him, but Freeman is the type of player you give up valuable assets for.

The Braves are clearly looking to rebuild and stock-pile long-term assets in the minor leagues. Few teams could help the Braves accumulate prospect talent as well as the Red Sox.