Tuesday, February 7

Dodgers rave about Freddie Freeman addition: ‘This team’s gonna be unbelievable’


Clayton Kershaw and Justin Turner found out on Twitter. Austin Barnes first saw the news on Instagram.

AJ Pollock was alerted by his childhood friends, texting him to find out if the reports were true. And Max Muncy was told by his wife, Kellie, who relayed the information from her phone Wednesday night while they watched TV.

“We just signed Freddie,” she said.

Muncy responded in delight.

“I was like all right, here we go.”

It was an attitude abound in the Dodgers clubhouse on Thursday morning, as players gathered for the first time since news broke the night before that Freddie Freeman is joining the team on a six-year, $162-million contract.

There was excitement over adding a superstar of Freeman’s caliber, the fourth former MVP now on the Dodgers roster. There was anticipation for the potency of their lineup, which could field as many as eight All-Stars on opening day. There was also appreciation, as players praised the front office and ownership for making another major acquisition that reaffirmed the team’s place as World Series contenders.

“It’s a testament to all those guys, it’s pretty special to be a part of,” Kershaw said. “They’ve been pretty consistent with their actions and proving to us that they really want to do whatever it takes to win. I’m thankful for that. It’s one of the reasons I wanted to come back.”

Echoed Turner: “ ‘Excited’ is probably an understatement. Obviously there’s been a lot of buildup and a lot of talk and a lot of anticipation as to what was going to happen. To finally see it go down and be official last night was — I slept really good.”

Also Read  Keep calm and carry on: Man City prove their mettle at Leeds to keep Liverpool at bay in title race | Goal.com

According to manager Dave Roberts, Freeman was getting a physical examination completed in Los Angeles on Thursday and is expected to join the team at Camelback Ranch on Friday.

Already though, Roberts said he has begun tinkering with potential lineup combinations in recent days, already enamored with the thought of adding Freeman to the equation.

“He is one of the premier hitters in the game, a guy that can hit left, hit right, can drive runs in,” Roberts said, later adding: “On paper it’s a great ball club. The lineup is as good a lineup as I have ever seen.”

Throughout the afternoon, Dodgers players also took turns extolling their new teammate.

Kershaw, who has faced Freeman in 40 plate appearances over the regular season and playoffs, said the slugger is excellent at controlling the zone and spoiling quality pitches.

“With what Freddie brings, he’s gotta be, if not the best, a top three or four hitter in the game,” Kershaw said.

Barnes, who has been behind the plate for many of those battles, said Freeman has always dominated the Dodgers’ game-planning meetings for past series against the Braves.

“I think you go back to that 2020 playoffs [series against the Braves in the NLCS] and just trying to figure out how to get him out, it’s not really easy,” Barnes said. “His control of the zone, his presence, and his ability to do damage on a lot of pitches is pretty crazy.”

Dodgers' Mookie Betts has a laugh with Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman.

Mookie Betts, left, and Freddie Freeman, sharing a laugh during the 2021 playoffs, will be Dodgers teammates this season.

(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Relief pitcher Shane Greene is the only former teammate of Freeman’s currently in the Dodgers clubhouse, after signing a minor league deal with the team this week. His experience with Freeman:

Also Read  Barcelona continues to move up Spanish league, beats Elche

“He’s the best in the business,” Greene said. “Absolute gamer, you’ll never know if he’s dealing with any injury or anything because he’ll play through it. He’s going to be out there 160 times. Professional at-bat no matter what. M-V-Free, he’s the guy.”

Trea Turner, meanwhile, has seen Freeman as much as any other Dodger, playing against him for years in the NL East while with the Washington Nationals. When Turner began getting texts about the signing Wednesday night, he compared the Dodgers to the fictional, seemingly-invincible Monstars team from the sports movie “Space Jam.”

“The way they structured the team and they spend the money, but then they can trade and they can draft and develop,” Turner said, “it seems like no matter what they do, it seems like the right move.”

Not all of the Dodgers’ big swings in recent seasons, of course, have produced World Series rings.

While the addition of Mookie Betts in 2020 paved the way to a championship, trades for Yu Darvish and Manny Machado in 2017 and 2018, respectively, weren’t accompanied by titles. Last season’s similarly ambitious additions of Trevor Bauer, Max Scherzer and Trea Turner didn’t prevent October disappointment either.

“You can’t just assume because we have nine of the best players in the game running out there every day that we’re going to win,” Kershaw said.

Added Roberts: “You’ve still got to go out there and play baseball games. You’ve still got to catch the baseball. You’ve still got to pitch.”

“But,” Roberts added, shifting tones, “I can’t say enough about the team that we have.”

Also Read  Jessie Diggins' silver is USA's 25th medal

Indeed, that was the overriding mode at Dodgers camp Thursday. The team already considered itself a title contender without Freeman. Now, there’s little doubt they have enough pieces to become the class of the league.

“I can’t wait for him to get here, it’s gonna be fun,” Muncy said. “He’s a fun guy to have in the clubhouse, fun guy to have on the field. This team’s gonna be unbelievable this year.”



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *