Making the case for Freddie Freeman as big Red Sox strike in free agency

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  • Boston Red Sox
    Boston Red Sox
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|
  • Freddie Freeman
    Freddie Freeman
    LiveTodayTomorrowvs--|
  • Chipper Jones
    Chipper Jones
    American Hall of Fame baseball player

Tomase: Making the case for Freeman as big Red Sox strike in free agency originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The easiest thing in the world when evaluating a potential free agent is finding a reason to say no. He's too old. He's unproven. His primary numbers are trending the wrong way. His underlying stats raise red flags. He'll never leave his current home. He's not made for Boston. He'll command a huge salary. You'll have to pay him forever. And on and on it goes.

Author's Note: Each day this week, we'll advocate for the Red Sox to consider one of the top remaining free agents on the market in a feature called, "Making the Case." Today's installment: Freddie Freeman. On Monday, we dissected Carlos Correa.

But what if we approached this exercise open to finding our way to yes? Then it's suddenly possible to picture a most unlikely scenario -- Freddie Freeman in a Red Sox uniform.

The former MVP is Mr. Brave and he just led Atlanta to its first World Series title in 26 years. He has been around so long, he actually played with Chipper Jones, Billy Wagner, and Derek Lowe in 2010. The five-time All-Star is coming off what qualifies as an average season after hitting .300 with 31 homers and 83 RBIs. The longer he plays, the more his walk totals creep up and his strikeouts drop. He hits for average, he hits for power, he hits in the clutch.

He is, in short, a stud. Every lineup would become more dangerous by adding him, every clubhouse would benefit from his presence, every city would embrace him as a superstar. So why not Boston?

Tomase: Assessing Bloom's biggest wins, losses with Red Sox

Atlanta's curious inability/refusal to lock him up merely opens the door for everyone else, and that could be a tragic mistake. Like David Ortiz in Boston or Derek Jeter in New York, Freeman is an Atlanta institution. He shouldn't go anywhere.

That's not the Red Sox' problem. He'd immediately fill a glaring need as an impact left-handed bat in a largely right-handed lineup. The only left-handed regulars are outfielder Alex Verdugo and third baseman Rafael Devers. Kyle Schwarber proved how dangerous the Red Sox could be with one more elite bat from that side at Alex Cora's disposal, and Freeman's even better.

He ranks atop the league in every category measuring quality of contact and his lifetime spray chart basically blankets the entire field. Of his 271 home runs, barely half (138) have gone to right or right-center with the rest spread among left, left-center, and dead center.

Freeman's Postseason Success

Career Batting Avg.

.349

Career OBP

.426

Variation

Double

He blasted his first career homer off Hall of Famer Roy Halladay in 2010 and his most recent in the seventh inning of Game 6 of the World Series, putting the finishes touches on Atlanta's clinching 7-0 victory.

That came one game after Freeman's 460-foot bomb broke a 4-4 tie in Game 5.

Freeman long ago erased any doubts that he's winning player, taking the baton from Jones and leading the franchise to another decade of excellence. Atlanta has reached the postseason seven times in Freeman's 12 seasons, culminating in the World Series. He's exactly the kind of player Chaim Bloom should be targeting, because the Red Sox boast the resources to strike for elite talent, even if the cost is six years and $150 million or more.

Working against Freeman are his age (32) and the fact that first base prospect Triston Casas is nearly ready for the big leagues. To the first point, Freeman has showed zero signs of slowing down. He walked a career-high 85 times last year and struck out a full-season career-low of 107. His expected batting average, slugging percentage, and weighted on-base average all ranked in the top four percent, and if that sounds like gibberish, it boils down to this: he does as much at the plate to produce runs as anyone.

He is, in short, a stud. Every lineup would become more dangerous by adding him, every clubhouse would benefit from his presence, every city would embrace him as a superstar. So why not Boston?

John Tomase on Freddie Freeman

While acquiring Freeman would block Casas's path to playing first base, it wouldn't preclude the youngster from DHing when J.D. Martinez leaves or becoming trade bait as the Red Sox look to upgrade their rotation. As easy as it is to fall in love with prospects, one need only look to the minimal impact Jarren Duran made last year to be reminded that they're no sure thing. Casas could be an All-Star, or he could be Bobby Dalbec. With Freeman, there is no doubt.

One of Bloom's shrewdest decisions was acquiring players with postseason experience capable of thriving in Boston. Kiké Hernández, Hunter Renfroe, Adam Ottavino, and Schwarber helped build a winning culture alongside World Series holdovers like Xander Bogaerts, Nathan Eovaldi, and Devers. Bloom didn't hit on everyone in this regard -- Garrett Richards and Marwin Gonzalez spring to mind -- but his average was nonetheless impressive.

Still, those guys were mostly singles, with Hernández representing a solid double. But Freddie Freeman? Now we're talking home run, so before reflexively saying no, let's open our minds to the possibility of yes.