How Freddie Freeman and Kenley Jansen Move Teams

SAN DIEGO – The All -Star’s first baseman who desperately wants to stay in Atlanta is in Los Angeles.

The All-Star who is closer to wanting to stay in Los Angeles is in Atlanta.

Another All-Star first baseman, whose trade from Oakland to Atlanta started this chain reaction, is glad he and his wife were given the opportunity to return to their hometown on a long-term deal.

The baseball business can be unpredictable, emotionless and soulless, but rarely can it be a three-way, direct impact clash over a five-day period like Freddie Freeman, Kenley Jansen and Matt Olson in mid-March. . The aftershocks will be fully on display starting Monday night at Dodger Stadium with an early-season rematch last fall of the National League Championship Series between Los Angeles and Atlanta.

“I can’t believe he’s a Dodger and not a Brave,” Los Angeles Manager Dave Roberts said of Freeman one afternoon near the end of spring training, who was excited to be gone two weeks after the veteran that slugger first put on his new uniform.

“We expect him to return to Atlanta,” said Andrew Friedman, the Dodgers ’president of baseball operations. “Obviously our interest is real. But the likelihood of this happening is, in our opinion, small.

Freeman, 32, is a five-time All-Star, the 2020 winner of the NL’s Most Valuable Player Award and a 13-year veteran. He joined Atlanta in 2010, became the face of the franchise for the next decade and was loved by fans of the team. He thought he could be a lifelong Brave. One of his older brothers, Andrew, even moved to the Atlanta area from Mexico on his job at Honeywell to get closer to Freddie. Her stepsister, Diana, moved there for the same reason.

“It was one of the places he could go, and he thought that would be fun,” said Fred Sr., Freddie’s father. “Now he’s going to dinner with my oldest son instead of with Freddie.”

The roots are deep. But Freeman’s free agency after the World Series championship in Atlanta brought uncertainty, and MLB’s 99-day lockout that ran from December to March brought darkness.

When business went on and the lights came back on, Atlanta shocked Freeman and the rest of baseball by immediately taking Olson, who plays in the same position, from Oakland on the first Monday of spring training. It was a flashing neon sign that the Braves had unexpectedly severed their relationship with Freeman.

“It changed the scene, and we felt like there was a real chance we could make it happen,” Friedman said of his team’s pursuit of Freeman.

Two days later, in fact, the Dodgers signed Freeman, who grew a few flies from Dodger Stadium in Orange County, Calif., Giving him a six-year, $ 162 million deal that was in doubt. in Atlanta to offer.

Two days later, the Braves signed Jansen, 34, whose 350 saves entering the 13th all-season season, to a one-year, $ 16 million deal.

“I would never say I want to go back to LA; I go where I want, ”Jansen said in a weekend interview in San Diego, before adding:“ That blue will be in my blood for the rest of my life. Everywhere I go, people tell me I’m a Dodger. This is just part of its business. It didn’t work out for the two of us for obvious reasons. We both tried very hard, but it didn’t work out. ”

If Jansen still waits a few days for things to be resolved in Los Angeles, it’s possible he’ll stay with the only organization he knows in baseball. But when he signed, the Dodgers moved on by selling for a new closer, Craig Kimbrel.

“I’ve been waiting,” Jansen said. “I can’t wait a minute. At some point, will other teams take you seriously, or not? Sometimes in life, you have to see it this way: When a good opportunity comes up, will you leave it? Or will you take it? ”

On the other hand, Freeman may be willing to sign Atlanta for less than he took from the Dodgers. But when that door was closed, it was closed forever. In his introductory news conference with the Dodgers that week, Freeman strongly explained that the tears shed by Alex Anthopoulos, the president of Atlanta baseball operations, in discussing his exit were a mini.

“Everyone is comfortable now,” the generally kind Freeman said during a sometimes brief, interview in late spring. “I’m just waiting now.”

The Dodgers understand his emotional wounds, and the team is doing everything they can to make him feel at home beyond what the $ 162 million deal itself is.

“Every day it’s easier for him to realize he’s no longer with the Braves,” Roberts said, adding: “There’s a part of the business of things and some things are out of control. a player.Freddie followed the long road.

His relationships in Atlanta could change forever – in a tense set of recent interviews, Ronald Acuña Jr. in Atlanta expressed joy that Freeman was gone before saying his words were misunderstood – but Freeman is eagerly looking forward to a visit with his teammates this week at Dodger stadium.

“It’s going to be great,” Freeman said. “I can’t wait. Yes, yes. I can see all the guys I won a championship with last year. We are connected forever. I’m looking forward to it. ”

Now, however, he is tasked with snatching the NL title from them. In Los Angeles, Freeman is part of an interesting roster that includes four MVP winners: Freeman, Clayton Kershaw, Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger. Roberts said “he’ll help us win a championship” and, at the very least, the opposing pitchers should be nervous of iron.

Regarding their unexpected connection through a series of spring transactions, Freeman said he didn’t know Olson “at all” and also didn’t know Jansen. Jansen said he knew Freeman just enough to say hello and “that’s it.”

Before Freeman or Jansen knew where they were going, the fast-working Braves signed Olson to an eight-year contract extension worth $ 168 million just 24 hours after the sale for him.

“It’s like the stars are aligning,” Olson said. “It was a complete storm. To take the opportunity to have a long-term option in the town I grew up in, to join the World Series champions, it was a quick choice for my wife and I.

His new teammates were welcoming, he said, and, on returning to Atlanta for a season-opening homestand, he said he didn’t feel cold shoulders from fans who were upset about leaving. by Freeman.

“I was really shocked at how it was,” Olson said.

It was also a homecoming for Jansen. Growing up in Curaçao, the Braves were Jansen’s team because of Atlanta’s Curaçaoan center fielder, Andruw Jones. Jansen said he was happy to be playing with another compatriot, Ozzie Albies, and was familiar with his warm smile, even if his new uniform wasn’t, at least not yet.

“He’s a big part of this team,” Manager Brian Snitker said. “You won’t know he hasn’t been here in five or six years if you see him at the clubhouse.”

Jansen, his wife, Gianni, and their three children will continue to make the Los Angeles area their permanent residence, the closer said. So far, he’s tried not to think too much about coming home early this week. But he was glad to get it sooner rather than later.

“When the time comes, I will probably get emotional,” she says. “I have to make sure I can control it.”

For most of the past decade, displayed on top of his locker at the Dodgers clubhouse was a California state flag, changed to “Kenley-Fornia.” It will go to his home gym “as a souvenir,” he said.

When the old roads end and a new beginning begins, some souvenirs can be nice.

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