Freddie Freeman, one of free agency’s biggest prizes, agrees to Dodgers deal

Freddie Freeman bats for the Atlanta Braves during a game against the Philadelphia Phillies in September.
(John Bazemore / Associated Press)
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It lurked in the background throughout Major League Baseball’s three-month lockout.

Freddie Freeman’s reported frustration with the Atlanta Braves. His seemingly natural fit in the middle of the Dodgers’ lineup. And the possibility that, whenever baseball came back, he could make a huge splash by signing with Los Angeles.

On Wednesday, it all came to fruition, with Freeman agreeing to terms on a deal with the Dodgers, according to people with knowledge of the situation. The contract, which is worth six years and $162 million, is the culmination of a once-quiet offseason for the team that is finishing with a seismic bang, giving the Dodgers four former MVPs on their roster.

It was only last October that Freeman was opposite the Dodgers, one of the driving forces behind a Braves team that knocked off the Dodgers in six games in the National League Championship Series en route to a World Series championship. Freeman, originally from Orange County, was hailed as a hero in Atlanta. And going into the winter, his return to the Braves felt close to being a foregone conclusion.


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But once free agency opened, a gulf developed between Freeman and the Braves, who were reportedly reluctant to offer him a sixth year. When the lockout began at the start of December, the 32-year-old was still a free agent. And from there, rumors of his frustration with the club — especially after the Braves’ 2021 profits of $111 million were made public last month — continued to build.

That opened the door for the Dodgers, who were in need of another left-handed bat in the middle of the order after Corey Seager’s departure to the Texas Rangers. The Dodgers weren’t the only suitor for Freeman, with the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, San Diego Padres and Tampa Bay Rays also linked with the highly coveted first baseman.

But, the appeal to return home to Southern California, with a team built for another World Series run, proved to be too much for Freeman, who probably will take over as the Dodgers’ everyday first baseman and slide Max Muncy either to second base or designated hitter.

Originally a second-round pick out of Orange El Modena High, Freeman has a .295 batting average, 271 home runs and 941 RBIs in his 12-year MLB career. He followed his MVP performance in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season by earning a fifth All-Star selection in 2021, when he hit .300 with 31 homers and 83 RBIs.

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The towering 6-foot-5, 220-pound first baseman is also a former Gold Glove winner, and widely respected as one of the best clubhouse leaders in the league.

That reputation made Freeman a beloved figure in Atlanta, where he consistently expressed a desire to stay throughout his contract year last season.

“I haven’t envisioned playing anywhere else because I haven’t gotten to that point yet,” Freeman said before Game 3 of the World Series in October. “I’ve put on this uniform — since 2007 I got to put on a Braves uniform with the [minor league] Gulf Coast League team. It’s all I’ve ever known. … I think everyone in this room knows I want to stay here.”


However, when he and the Braves failed to reach an agreement — leading the Braves to trade for Oakland Athletics first baseman Matt Olson on Monday instead — the Dodgers swooped in, adding even more star power to an already sparkling lineup, and cementing their status as World Series favorites in 2022.