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Cubs free agent target: Freddie Freeman

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It’s pretty unlikely that the Cubs could sign the Braves 1B... but let’s talk about it anyway.

Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

It’s fewer than 24 hours since Freddie Freeman and the rest of the Atlanta Braves won the 2021 World Series, and Freddie probably hasn’t even been sized for his World Series ring yet.

But as I noted earlier today, Freeman, along with dozens of other veteran players not under multi-year deals, is now a free agent.

He’ll obviously be one of the most attractive free agents on the market this winter.

Should the Cubs pursue him? I’d say yes.

Do the Cubs have the payroll room for him? Absolutely.

Will the Cubs go after Freeman? That’s the big unknown. Pursuing and signing a guy like Freeman would make a statement that the Cubs intend to try to contend in 2022, just as the Jon Lester signing in late 2014 told the baseball world that the Cubs intended to contend in 2015.

What would it cost to sign Freeman? He has just completed an eight-year, $135 million contract that averaged $16.875 million, though the deal was heavily backloaded. The Braves bought out all of Freeman’s arb years and what would have been his first four years of free agency. It was surely worth it for both player and team, split up this way:

2014: $5.125 million
2015: $8.5 million
2016: $12 million
2017: $20.5 million
2018: $21 million
2019: $21 million
2020: $22 million (before pandemic proration_
2021: $22 million

Freeman turned 32 in September. He is still performing at a high level. Coming off a pandemic 2020 season in which he was NL MVP, Freeman hit .300/.393/.503 (180-for-600) with 31 home runs in 2021. He led the NL in runs with 120, and posted 4.7 bWAR. He’s averaged 4 bWAR over his career. He had a fine postseason in which he homered five times in 58 at-bats, including his last plate appearance in Game 6, upon which Joe Buck noted that could have been his last PA for the Braves.

He will be expensive. In this article here in August, I suggested signing Freeman to a four-year, $80 million deal and most of you said that wouldn’t be enough. You are likely correct.

How about five years, $110 million? Would that do it? That would match his average salary over the last two seasons, and since you are then paying for Freeman’s age 32 through 36 seasons, it would seem logical to not go higher than that. Further, I do think that Freeman is the type of player who could still be performing at or near his current level by 2026. That’s a lot of money to commit, but: a) the Cubs have it and b) this would give the Cubs a true star and team leader.

The latter is probably the reason this won’t happen. Freeman is the face of the Braves franchise, one of the best players in their history. Ownership there can afford him, if they want to. It seems likely Freeman stays in Atlanta.

But should the Cubs make the effort to lure Freeman to Chicago?

Poll

Freddie Freeman...

This poll is closed

  • 32%
    ... the Cubs should offer him five years and $110 million
    (287 votes)
  • 24%
    ... not enough, it’ll take more than that
    (216 votes)
  • 37%
    ... too much. Pass
    (330 votes)
  • 4%
    Something else (leave in comments)
    (43 votes)
876 votes total Vote Now