With the lockout dragging on for most of the winter months, many fans of Major League Baseball are hanging on to every last word of MLB insiders and those who know the inner workings and dealings of the game. Those of you who follow the Blue Jays will probably have heard the name Carlos Baerga on numerous occasions, especially over the past week (at least if you have Instagram).
Baerga made headlines earlier this week when he made a bold “prediction” that the Blue Jays were one of the front runners to sign first baseman free-agent Freddie Freeman, which in turn, got all of the Jays fanbase stirred up on social media hoping that Ross Atkins could bring the former Atlanta Braves slugger to the organization. While Baerga has announced some Blue Jays transactions in the past such as the Marcus Semien deal last offseason, it appears this is one he got wrong, as Freeman is set to sign a six-year deal worth $162 million with the Los Angeles Dodgers in the wee hours of the morning (at least in Eastern Standard Time).
While it would have been great to have the lefty-hitting slugger and World Series champion on the Jays roster, the fit wasn’t really there defensively, as he would be taking over first base from Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who would then either have to platoon with Freeman and play as a DH or head back to third base, an area he did struggle defensively earlier in his career. The signing of Freeman would also cost the Jays some significant payroll capital, which could make extensions difficult for core players like Guerrero Jr. or Bo Bichette in the near future.
After the Chapman trade, it seemed like the writing was on the wall that Freeman and the Jays were not going to work out yet many still had hope (myself included). That is all now put to rest as it appears that he is heading out West to his hometown state. While it is a bit disappointing that the Jays were connected to such a player (who happens to have Canadian ties) and he signed elsewhere, there is one positive note with Freeman heading to the Dodgers: he’s not going to be playing a majority of his games in the AL East.
While the Blue Jays did not sign free agent Freddie Freeman, there is added comfort knowing he signed outside the AL East and not with a rival club.
Since the lockout ended, four out of the five AL East times were connected to Freddie Freeman in some sort of way. The Jays had contacted his representatives just before the CBA expired and the Tampa Bay Rays reportedly offered the slugger a contract, with the details/terms not known at this time. The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox were also reportedly interested in Freeman, although the Bronx Bombers dropped out of the race when they signed first baseman Anthony Rizzo to a two-year pact a couple of days ago.
Still, having so many rival teams in the same division as the Jays be interested in a player like Freeman is a scary thought, especially since he would make all of those teams a lot better, especially the Rays who are positioned to be near the top of the division once again this year. The Red Sox and Yankees are also always a danger to steal some games throughout the season which cost the Blue Jays last year when they finished one game short of a tiebreaker playoff spot. Not only that, to be connected to Freeman and then have him suit up for an AL East rival for the next six years would be just awful to watch, especially since he has great stats at the Rogers Centre.
It may be disappointing that the Jays and Freddie Freeman couldn’t find a way to make it work but the added bonus is that he at least is not in the same division as the club, meaning he is going to be a problem for the San Diego Padres and the rest of the NL West over the next six years.
The Blue Jays and Dodgers are not scheduled to play each other this season, so the only way Jays fans will potentially get to see Freeman in person is if the two sides meet in the World Series later this year.