Alex Anthopoulos said he was too busy Friday to attend Freddie Freeman’s inaugural press conference as the Dodger. By the end of the day, the Atlanta Braves’ president of baseball operations had struck a deal with former Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen to complete an indirect exchange of franchise cornerstones between the teams.
But Anthopoulos saw clips of Freeman’s performance. And he noted Freeman’s seething frustration with the Braves. At one point, Freeman was asked if he saw the clip of Anthopoulos speaking to the media last Monday after taking over from first baseman Matt Olson to unofficially end Freeman’s time in Atlanta.
“I saw her,” Freeman said. “Yes. That’s all I’m going to say.”
The terse answer came with an underlying message: Freeman didn’t care about the tears at best — if he thought they were even real. He said the Braves’ decision to acquire Olson “caught him by surprise.” He thought it was an unwarranted cold move.
On Sunday, Anthopoulos insisted the tears were real. He praised the 2020 National League’s Most Valuable Player for his play on the field and his presence off it. He described Freeman as “a partner in many ways,” whom he sometimes thought of as an assistant general manager. He credited Freeman with his starring role in his four-year winning streak as head of the Braves’ front office.
“At the end of the day, he’s going to be a Brave forever,” said Anthopoulos, who worked in the Dodgers’ front office for two years before joining the Braves in November 2017. “It’s a surge of emotions. Just like he said. Everyone is human. You have a surge of emotions. You’re not human if you don’t have emotions, right?
“It’s a sad day no matter how you slice it. For our clubhouse, for our fans, for me personally. And that’s human and that’s just the reality of it. And you can’t be with someone for four years and get close to them and go through what we went through together without having emotions.”
“It’s a sad day no matter how you slice it. For our clubhouse, for our fans, for me personally.”
Alex Anthopoulous, Braves GM on Freddie Freeman leaving Atlanta
In contrast, Jansen said Sunday he left the Dodgers on good terms after constant communication with team officials.
In Freeman’s version of events, the Braves’ final formal renewal offer came at last season’s close. He said team officials only called him twice during the offseason – once before the lockout and once after. He was then shocked to see the Braves traded for Olson and quickly granted him an eight-year contract extension.
Anthopoulos denied Freeman’s account without going into specifics.
“I don’t know the facts like that,” said Anthopoulos. “But I wasn’t dealing with Freddie, so I can’t say where he got his information from. I know freddy He has a heart of gold. He is responsible. He’s honest and we just don’t have the same facts. And that’s okay. But I wasn’t dealing with him directly.”
It will be remembered as an ugly divorce between a franchise and one of its icons. Freeman will turn the page for Good Tuesday on his Cactus League debut with the Dodgers. He will see his former team when the Braves head to Los Angeles for a three-game streak in mid-April and again when the Dodgers head to Atlanta in late June.
A clash in October, the fourth in five years between the clubs, would serve as a fitting final chapter.
“He’s in an incredible place,” said Anthopoulos. “It’s an amazing organization. It’s an amazing city. It’s an amazing group of people – from the coaches, the manager, the front office, the general manager, the ownership group, the president. I mean I know these people. It’s a phenomenal place with an all time favorite and an incredible club.
“And what he did for Atlanta in Atlanta should forever be honored and respected.”
https://www.latimes.com/sports/dodgers/story/2022-03-21/braves-gm-alex-anthopoulos-freddie-freeman-dodgers Braves GM: The tears over the loss of Freddie Freeman to the Dodgers were real