Atlanta, GA, United States (4E Sports) – After signing him to team-record eight-year, $135-million contract, the Atlanta Braves introduced first baseman Freddie Freeman Wednesday as the new face and cornerstone of the franchise.
“We’re excited that we’re able to keep one of the best young players in the National League for the next eight years — three years in this ballpark, five years in the new ballpark, and hopefully much longer after that. I think there’s not a more worthy player on our ballclub,” Braves general manager Frank Wren said.
The 24-year-old Freeman, who sat between Wren and manager Fredi Gonzalez during the press conference, said he was humbled and honored by the contract.
“I don’t ever think of that aspect of the game. I play this game to have fun, and I just try to go out there and work hard. For them to believe in me with this kind of contract, it’s truly an honor and humbling,” Freeman said. “To have it this young, I never thought that would be even possible or imagined that. But I’m happy.”
“This is a team that I want to play for for a long time, and I’m happy to be here the next three years. Then going into that new ballpark in Cobb County, it’s going to be a lot of fun. I’m happy to be a part of that team,” he added.
Freeman is coming off a breakthrough performance in his third season. He ranked fifth in the National League MVP balloting after batting .319 with a .396 on-base percentage, 23 homers and 109 RBIs, the Braves’ first 100-RBI man since Jones and Jeff Francoeur in 2007.
Wren and Gonzalez both noted Freeman has improved significantly over the years, an important characteristic for any player in whom a team invests so heavily.
“He just keeps getting better. I think there’s still a lot more that we’re going to see out of him. We always challenge him. I kid him, but it’s a challenge,” Gonzalez said. “And I think before this is all said and done, this is going to be a contract that’s well worth it, because he’s going to keep getting better.”
The Braves have bought out all of Freeman’s three arbitration years as well as five free-agent years, keeping him through 2021. His current contract easily topped the previous franchise-record deal, a six-year, $90 million extension that Chipper Jones signed before the 2001 season.