Freeman salary soars after Braves move to new ballpark

Freddie Freeman’s salary in the Braves first baseman’s record-breaking eight-year, $135 million contract jumps to more than $20 million annually for the last five years of the deal, coinciding with the Braves’ planned move to Cobb County.

Two days after the deal was announced, details were revealed Thursday by a person familiar with the contract: Freeman gets a $2.875 million signing bonus, then salaries of $5.125 million in 2014, $8.5 million in 2015 and $12 million in 2016, which would have been his arbitration years if he hadn’t signed the extension.

The salary soars to $20.5 million in 2017, then $21 million in 2018 and 2019, and $22 million in 2020 and 2021.

The sharp increase in salary comes in what would’ve been his free-agent years, but also coincides with the team’s first seasons in a planned new ballpark in Cobb County, where the Braves are counting on increased revenues from ticket sales and the adjacent retail and entertainment village they will control and intend to have open when they move.

Wren said the Freeman signing was the first big part of the Braves’ plans to keep together most of their core of young players for years to come, particularly players they drafted and developed.

“As we strategized, we were looking at a comprehensive plan,” Wren said. “It wasn’t focused on keeping one player, it was focused on keeping a team, and keeping a competitive team that we could go forward into Cobb County and beyond. And I think the great attribute that Cobb County gives us, is it helps us stay competitive. It gives us the revenues and the additional ability to stay competitive in our division, and that’s an important aspect of it.

“But like I said, this is a comprehensive plan, it’s not just about Freddie. Although this is one of the first big steps.”

Freeman, who turned 24 in September, can earn various bonuses for awards, but there are no salary escalators or option years in the contract. He made the All-Star team for the first time in 2013, his third full season in the majors, and finished fifth in the National League MVP balloting.

Freeman hit .319 with a .396 on-base percentage, 23 homers and 109 RBIs, making him the Braves’ first 100-RBI man since 2007. He has hit more than 20 homers in each of his three seasons.