The Braves “explored” the potential of signing free agent first baseman Anthony Rizzo in November, in line with The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. This might have doubtlessly simply been normal offseason process on the Braves’ half, since as Rosenthal notes, the membership will naturally have backup plans in thoughts ought to Freddie Freeman signal elsewhere.
Alongside those self same strains, Atlanta has also been linked to the Matt Olson commerce market, as Olson (projected to earn $12MM in his second journey by way of the arbitration course of) stands out as a main commerce chip for an Athletics group that’s seeking to lower prices. It’s most likely secure to imagine that the Braves have checked out different first base choices in addition to simply Rizzo and Olson as they put together for a post-Freeman world, although Rosenthal observes that “many of the business nonetheless expects Freeman to stick with the Braves.”
Nonetheless, a minimum of one rival government is shocked that Freeman continues to be accessible, describing it as a “slap within the face” to Freeman that the Braves haven’t already labored out a brand new contract with the longtime face of the franchise. The most recent reports advised that the Braves had been hesitant about giving Freeman a sixth assured 12 months, and Freeman wished one thing nearer to a $200MM deal — or a minimum of, maybe nearer to $200MM than the $135MM (over 5 years) deal that Atlanta offered at some point throughout negotiations between the 2 sides.
Rizzo presents an fascinating first base various, as Rizzo is obtainable for a lot lower than Freeman’s asking worth, and might be signed for simply cash, whereas Atlanta would absolutely need to ship Oakland fairly the bundle of younger expertise to work out a commerce. MLBTR projected Rizzo for a three-year, $45MM pact, whereas rating the 32-year-old in twenty first place on our listing of the offseason’s top 50 free agents.
In fact, the plain motive for that cheaper price tag is that whereas Freeman and Olson are nonetheless producing at All-Star ranges, Rizzo’s bat has been extra modestly productive (109 wRC+) for the reason that begin of the 2020 season. Over his final 819 plate appearances, Rizzo has hit .240/.343/.432 with 33 residence runs for the Cubs and Yankees. Rizzo’s hard-contact numbers have additionally been in severe decline, whereas his 9% stroll charge from 2021 was his lowest over a full season. His first base glovework additionally took a giant dip within the eyes of the UZR/150 and Defensive Runs Saved metrics, even when the Outs Above Common metric gave him a +6 (his greatest OAA rating since 2017).
The common DH would assist quell any issues about Rizzo’s protection, and his left-handed bat would assist substitute Freeman to some extent inside a closely right-handed Braves lineup. Rizzo can be nonetheless one of many higher contact hitters within the league, which might assist an Atlanta scale back a group strikeout charge that ranked twenty second out of 30 golf equipment in 2021.