Freddie Freeman: ‘Nothing to report on’ contract status

Credit: Atlanta Braves

Caption
Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman says "there is nothing to report" regarding contract extension talks with the team at start of season.

Credit: Atlanta Braves

As the MLB season begins, Freddie Freeman’s contract status has weighed heavily on Braves fans’ — and the baseball world’s — minds. The first baseman and National League MVP is a free agent following the season.

“There is nothing to report on,” Freeman said before the Braves faced the Phillies. “It’s opening day, so head down and going to play the season.”

Freeman, 31, has stated publicly multiple times that he wants to spend his entire career in Atlanta. Braves general manger Alex Anthopoulos has said the same. Freeman, entering his 12th season and 11th opening day, has grown synonymous with the franchise, in many ways following Hall of Famer and Braves lifer Chipper Jones’ blueprint.

The Braves could still extend Freeman’s contract later, of course, even if that meant he reached free agency. For now, the attention is on the club’s on-field tasks as it seeks its fourth consecutive NL East title.

Notes from Thursday:

- The Braves lined up as expected for their opener against the Phillies. Freeman begins the season hitting third, which the team indicated in February would be the case. Cristian Pache started in center field. And the pitcher’s spot is back in the order after the National League featured a designated hitter last season. Max Fried hit ninth.

- The Phillies finished 28-32 last season. They re-signed star catcher J.T. Realmuto, signed two veterans for their rotation and added several relievers, hoping to bolster a bullpen that was historically poor in 2020.

Freeman said of the improved Phillies: “They’re pretty complete right now. They went out and got some bullpen pieces. Their starting rotation, any time you can roll out (Aaron) Nola, (Zack) Wheeler, (Zach) Eflin, and you go out and get a lefty like Matt Moore and Chase Anderson, you have a pretty good team. They added (Jose) Alvarado, the lefty in the bullpen. You know their offense is potent. You have to keep them off the board, keep the ball in the yard. They have a good group. And you have Joe Girardi leading it, who’s been there before. He knows how to get teams to the playoffs. So like I’ve said before, the NL East is a juggernaut. There’s no easy task no matter who it is.”

- Freeman feels quite-a-bit better this opening day than the last one. Freeman, who had a difficult battle with COVID-19, rejoined the team a week before the truncated season started in July. He racked up at-bats during simulated and exhibition games to make sure he was ready for the opener in New York.

“A whole 180 (difference this time),” Freeman said. “I feel great. No aches or pains. I don’t know if that’s adrenaline or not, but I feel great. I feel ready to go. Like I told (manager Brian Snitker) the other day, 162, ready to go. Obviously that’s my goal every year, to play every single game. I feel ready to go and ready to do that.”

- In other NL East news, the Mets-Nationals opener was postponed because of COVID-19 issues. It’s an unfortunate start to the season, but like last year, a continued challenge teams must navigate throughout the calendar.

“It brings it to light that we’re not through it yet,” Snitker said. “We’re still fighting this. We have to tend to business and not let up. It’s a reminder that this thing is still out there and real.”