Freeman humbled by biggest deal in Braves' history

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 6, 2014 at 12:53 pm •  Published: February 6, 2014
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Freddie Freeman says he won't try to change to prove he deserves the biggest contract in Atlanta Braves' history.

"I'm going to go out there and just keep trying to get better," he said Wednesday, a day after his $135 million, eight-year deal was finalized. "I progressively got better the last three years. Hopefully, I can stay healthy and continue to do so. I'm not going to try to put extra pressure, just go out there and keep doing what I've been doing."

Freeman already has plans on how to spend some of the money.

"The first thing I've got to do is pay for a wedding," he said, looking ahead to the Nov. 22 ceremony.

Freeman's fiance, Chelsea Goff, sat in the front during the news conference alongside the player's father. She said planned to shop for a wedding gown on Thursday.

Freeman gets a $2,875,000 signing bonus, of which $1,875,000 is payable on May 1 and $1 million on July 1. He receives salaries of $5,125,000 this year, $8.5 million in 2015, $12 million in 2016, $20.5 million in 2017, $21 million in each of the following two years and $22 million in each of the final two seasons.

The agreement covers three arbitration-eligible seasons and five years in which he could have become a free agent.

Freeman's deal tops the $90 million, six-year contract for Chipper Jones that covered 2001-06 and came one year after the Braves gave outfielder B.J. Upton the biggest contract for a free agent in team history — $75.25 million for five years.

Upton struggled in his first year in Atlanta, hitting only .184 and losing his starting job. After the season, general manager Frank Wren said Upton may have felt too much pressure.

Wren said Freeman can handle the long-term deal.

"One of the things we were looking at was ... the right timing," Wren said. "Has the player established himself well enough that this won't affect him one way or the other? This was the perfect timing for us."

Freeman, 24, has played only three full seasons. He was an All-Star last year, when he hit .319 with 23 homers and 109 RBIs. He matched his career high in home runs, set highs in batting average and RBIs and finished fifth in NL MVP voting. He has topped 20 home runs in three straight seasons.



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