The 2021-22 MLB season was a roller coaster for the Atlanta Braves.
After suffering devastating losses before the trade deadline, they turned their season, starting with the pivotal acquisitions of Eddie Rosario, Jorge Soler and Adam Duvall.
This effort helped get their winning percentage over .500 just in time for the playoffs.
This effort would be followed by an amazing run culminating in the Atlanta Braves becoming the 2021 World Series champions in six games against the Hoston Astros. This post-season run mirrored the Braves’ 1995 championship-winning team.
After this exhilarating season, the Braves’ heads would come out of the clouds soon after receiving news that longtime Atlanta Brave and franchise player Freddie Freeman would not renew his contract with the team.
He signed a 6-year deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers with a $162 million payout.
After being a fan favorite for so long, his departure was met with great controversy from the Braves fanbase. Braves legends like Chipper Jones publicly lashed out at Freeman for his actions.
“I don’t know the interactions between Alex Anthopolus and Excel (Freeman’s agency). But somewhere in there was a miscommunication, lack of communication, something,” said Jones.
There had been rumors of Freeman not being happy with the front office for a while.
The Braves have many players to pay to keep their championship core intact, and the MLB is a business-first league. Hard decisions are part of the territory.
“From my conversations with Freddie, he wanted to stay,” said Jones. “I [disagree] with [how] this was handled on Freddie’s side. If you want to play in Atlanta, you play in Atlanta. You maybe take a little less to be happy and play in a place that is comfortable for you.”
Other players received the news of his departure and had a bittersweet reaction as they’re happy for his payday but will miss his locker room presence such as second baseman Ozzie Albies.
“He’s one of the guys we’re never going to forget here,” said Ozzie Albies.
Freeman made his debut for the Braves on Sep. 1, 2010 until his departure from the team in 2021. He amassed five all-star appearances, a National League MVP, and a championship ring.
During the championship celebration at Trust Park, shortstop Dansby Swanson credited freeman with his helpful advice and teaching. “Freddie, Freddie” chants began to echo throughout the crowd to signify that they wanted the organization to resign Freeman.
Swanson was upset over Freeman’s departure but understood his decision.
“It always comes down to business, and none of us like it, but at the end of the day, it kind of has to be that way,” Swanson said.
After Freeman’s departure, the Braves traded four prospects to the Oakland Athletics for first basemen Matt Olson to replace Freeman’s outfield presence.
This previous season, Olson made his all-star game debut and is an Atlanta native.
He is also a two-time golden glove winner, so he’ll be productive in the Braves outfield even though it will be hard to replicate Freeman’s love from the fans.