Freddie Freeman was mentioned as a speculative fit for the St. Louis Cardinals, but could he actually end up in the NL Central?
On Monday, we wrote how free-agent first baseman Freddie Freeman was an unlikely target for the Cardinals. While that is true, and a minimal-at-best chance that he ends up in St. Louis, that doesn’t mean that he won’t end up in the National League Central.
MLB Trade Rumors listed two NL Central teams – the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers – as two options for Freeman. While the Cubs feel like a highly unlikely scenario, I don’t know if the same can be said about the Brewers. Here’s what MLBTR had to say about their chances: “The Brewers are a contending team with Rowdy Tellez penciled in at first base, so they at least warrant a mention. It’s just hard to see them outbidding the field to land Freeman in that $180MM range. I could write something very similar for the Guardians.”
The Brewers are in good shape with Tellez at first base. After he was acquired in a midseason trade from the Toronto Blue Jays, he emerged as a revelation in a limited role for the Brewers, and hit towering home runs as they advanced to the postseason. He has earned the right to have a real chance to win the full-time job in 2022. But there is a weird feeling inside my gut – nothing more than that – that the Brewers could check in on Freeman once free agency opens.
Take the Yasmani Grandal, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Kolten Wong signings in recent seasons for example. All three players have been All-Stars, but when they reached free agency, didn’t have their market’s progress and the Brewers swooped in at the eleventh hour to sign them. Freeman has been identical, with no team – the Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers or New York Yankees – being willing to meet his reported six-year, $180 million asking price.
Now, it’s unlikely that the Brewers are able to hand him a contract worth $30 million per season, especially since Christian Yelich is in year one of his $215 million contract. But their All-Star caliber rotation trio – Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff and Freddy Peralta – are all signed cheap for multiple seasons. They have the financial flexibility to go all-in on a player to win now. Why not Freeman?
Signing Freeman would vault them into instant World Series contenders, so it’s something that the Brewers should consider. Of course, to play devil’s advocate, they need to have the payroll flexibility to extend Burnes and Woodruff, which will not be cheap, and signing Freeman to a long-term contract may make that borderline impossible.
The only way that Freeman ends up in Milwaukee would be on a short-term deal – say, three seasons for $90-100 million – and even that feels unlikely. I’m not going to rule it out, but with MLBTR listing three NL Central teams as possibilities for the star first baseman, you never know. Stranger things have happened.