Atlanta Braves: Freddie Freeman is happy with the team’s rebuild so far

ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 02: Brandon Phillips
ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 02: Brandon Phillips /

The Atlanta Braves have been rebuilding for some time now and their cornerstone player, Freddie Freeman, likes what he is beginning to see.

The Atlanta Braves have one of the best first basemen in the National League in Freddie Freeman and he is the cornerstone to their franchise. He has been part of the MLB roster since 2010 and this year will mark his fourth straight season where the Atlanta Braves fail to make the playoffs, or even hold a .500 record. Now, though, he wants this Braves team to be a championship team.

Freeman backed this up by recently making a very unusual move for the Atlanta Braves. He changed positions for a brief moment in time, from first base to third base so that Matt Adams could remain in the lineup. Freeman was injured after being hit by a pitch in May and the Braves had acquired Adams to play in his place from the St. Louis Cardinals. Adams ended up being one of the best hitters on the team and the Braves were trying to figure out how to keep him in the lineup.

So instead of claiming the first base job was his and his alone, Freeman offered to play third base for the Atlanta Braves. He hasn’t played third base since he was a 17-year-old prospect and even then it was only for five games.

“Freddie is one of the best team leaders and one of the most selfless players I’ve ever met,” General Manager John Coppolella stated. “All this guy wants to do is win. He’s been an oak throughout this rebuild. The first hint he even had of winning, he was willing to put himself in harm’s way and move across the diamond to help make the Braves better.”

The Atlanta Braves and Freeman’s experiment didn’t last long. Matt Kemp was injured and the Braves moved Freeman back to first while finding at-bats for Adams in left field. They also promoted top prospect Ozzie Albies to play second base while veteran infielder Brandon Phillips took over at third. Freeman played a total of 16 games at third base while committing only one error.

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“When you see someone do that, you look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself you want to be that kind of player, too,” center fielder Ender Inciarte said. “He’s not selfish at all. We appreciate it, what he tried to accomplish. He actually played well at third base, but he’s always been a first baseman, he’s an M.V.P. type of player, and you don’t want to mess with him. You just want to leave him wherever he can be comfortable.”

Freeman’s willingness to play third sent a message to the entire Atlanta Braves organization: he wants to win. He’s signed through 2021 and was on a solid roster at the beginning of his career that has since been stripped down and sold off. The Braves assured Freeman he would not be one of the players auctioned off as they have done with others like Jason Heyward, Evan Gattis, Andrelton Simmons, Craig Kimbrel, and Shelby Miller.

However, all those veterans sold off brought back a lot of young, top prospects that are now seeing the big leagues. Albies, Sean Newcomb, Lucas Sims, and Max Fried have all been brought up to the MLB roster this season and many more will follow. The long multi-year rebuild that Freeman and the Atlanta Braves have been on is finally coming to a close and Freeman is happy to see it.

“It’s nice to see things starting to form into a team and not just form a minor league system,” Freeman said. “It’s been a tough two years; I don’t think anybody’s gonna sugarcoat that around here. We had a team where most teams said, ‘Oh, good, we’re playing the Braves.’ But I don’t think most teams say that anymore. Last year, we’d be 30 games under .500 at this point. It’s been so much better.”

Freeman and the Atlanta Braves are hoping that these young prospects turn their franchise around and into a dynasty. The National League East has a lot of good, young talent but the Braves’ talent could overshadow everyone else’s. If their young players pan out as expected, they could be a World Series contender for years to come.

“That’s what you play this for,” Freeman added. “If you’re not playing to win, then what’s the point? I see no other way of playing this game other than trying to win the World Series. Hopefully, we’re close.”

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The Atlanta Braves and Freeman have the same goal: win a World Series. It has been a very long and likely frustrating journey for Freeman but the future is bright. He seems to be happy with how things are looking. They have a big brand new stadium and have a bright young roster. All they need now, are some wins.