Freddie Freeman's first game at Truist Park as a member of the Dodgers last weekend was always going to be emotional, but it far surpassed expectations. Freeman was incredibly fervid during media availability and appeared to fight back tears as he stepped into the batter's box for the first time wearing Dodger Blue.
But that emotion was more than just returning to a former home ballpark against a former ball club.
In what has been an ongoing war of words between the Braves and Freeman's camp, one thing is clear: Freeman's future in Atlanta was not handled properly after the 2021 season in which the Braves won their first World Series since 1995. Further bolstering that claim is the fallout of the Dodgers' series against the Braves.
That fallout is leading to changes for Freeman.
On Tuesday, it was reported that Freeman is considering leaving his agents at Excel and will seek new representation, per Buster Olney.
According to Olney, Freeman has privately expressed frustration about the way his free agency — which resulted in a six-year $162 million contract with the Dodgers — was handled.
Sources: Freddie Freeman, who has told friends he's angry with how his free-agent negotiations played out, is changing representation, away from Excel. He is currently listed as being self-represented.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) June 28, 2022
According to a statement from Freeman released by MLB.com's Mark Bowman, while the move isn't done yet, Freeman is still working through the fallout and the situation is "fluid."
Freddie Freeman’s statement:— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) June 28, 2022
Last weekend in Atlanta was a very emotional time for me and my family. I am working through some issues with my longtime agents at Excel. My representation remains a fluid situation and I will update if needed.
What happened during Freddie Freeman's free agency?
Both the Braves and Freeman's (former) camp have been tight-lipped about what led to Freeman's departure from Atlanta. Both sides leaked different accounts of what transpired. The Braves said they offered Freeman a five-year deal with the same AAV than the Dodgers contract ($135 million in total), but Freeman wanted a sixth year.
According to Freeman's camp, "he didn’t view the lack of [a sixth year] as a dealbreaker," per Bowman.
The story that has emerged since is that Freeman's agents acted independently of Freeman's wishes. According to Bowman, on March 12, Casey Close and Victor Menocal — his representation — gave Braves president of baseball operations Alex Anthopolous "two requests that far exceeded Freeman’s expectations and said the Braves had an hour to respond."
The Braves took two days to respond, and they did so by trading for former Athletics first baseman Matt Olson, who they signed to an eight-year $168 million deal. Freeman would sign with the Dodgers three days later.
What did the Dodgers think of Freeman's Atlanta reception?
The drama of this saga continued to flow after the Dodgers' first game in Atlanta. Freeman admitted to being distracted upon his return.
"I've been thinking about this for three months, to be honest with you," he said after the series, per The Athletic. "I'm just kind of glad it's over. So I can just worry about baseball now."
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was proud of how Freeman handled the lights.
"This is probably as much as he’s ever been tested, I think, emotionally. And he passed with flying colors."
Some of Freeman's teammates, however, had some less-glowing things to say about Freeman's demeanor in his return.
"He's obviously been a big contributor for our team," Clayton Kershaw said, per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "And I hope we're not second fiddle. It's a pretty special team over here, too. I think whenever he gets comfortable over here, he'll really enjoy it."
Trea Turner, who understands the difficulty of switching teams after being traded from the Nationals and splitting up with his close friend Juan Soto, was sympathetic.
"When you play for a team for 12 years, it's not necessarily super easy to just flip the switch and act like nothing happened or act like you never played (there)," he said postgame. "He's got real feelings, whatever they may be. You've got to listen to what he says more so than what's written about him or who says what. … He's got a right to feel however he wants to feel."
Reports indicate other members of Dodgers were rankled similarly to Kershaw with the theatrics, but were less public about it.
Despite the distractions, Freeman is putting together a solid season for the Dodgers. Entering Tuesday he is hitting .304/.388/.488 and he had a key go-ahead RBI double in Sunday night's primetime matchup against Atlanta. While Matt Olson, synchronistically, would erase that with an RBI single in the bottom of the frame, the Dodgers won 5-3 to win the weekend series.
Freeman and Olson will undoubtedly be inextricably linked while Freeman plays out his six-year contract and Olson plays his eight-year deal in Atlanta, and it appears a rivalry is continuing to bud between Atlanta and Los Angeles. Both teams are currently on pace to get in the postseason, with the Dodgers leading the NL West and the Braves settled in a wild card spot behind the Mets.