Dodgers are raving about adding Freddie Freeman to the lineup

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, who texted him to find out if the reports were true. And Max Muncy was told by his wife Kellie, who shared the information from her phone while they were watching TV on Wednesday night.

“We just signed Freddie,” she said.

Muncy answered enthusiastically.

“I was like okay, let’s go.”

Cheered up Thursday morning at the Dodgers’ clubhouse as players gathered for the first time since it was announced the night before that Freddie Freeman was joining the team on a six-year, $162 million contract.

It was exciting to add a superstar of Freeman’s caliber, the fourth former MVP to now make the Dodgers roster. There was anticipation of the strength of their lineup, which could field as many as eight All-Stars on opening day. There was appreciation, too, as players praised the front office and ownership for another major acquisition that confirmed the team’s place as a World Series contender.

“It’s a testament to all these guys, it’s very special to be a part of,” Kershaw said. “They have been pretty consistent in their actions and have shown us that they really want to do whatever it takes to win. I am grateful for that. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to come back.”

Echo Turner: “’Excited’ is probably an understatement. Obviously there was a lot of preparation and a lot of talking and a lot of anticipation of what was going to happen. Finally seeing it go down and it’s official last night was – I slept really well.

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

However, Roberts said he had started tinkering with possible lineup combinations in recent days and was already enamored with the thought of adding Freeman into the equation.

“He’s one of the best hitters in the game, a guy who can hit left and right and hit runs in,” Roberts said, later adding, “On paper, it’s a great ball hitter. The line-up is as good as I’ve ever seen.”

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

Kershaw, who has made 40 plate appearances against Freeman in the regular season and playoffs, said the slugger excels at controlling the zone and spoiling quality pitches.

“With what Freddie brings, if not the best, he has to be one of the top 3 or 4 players 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’re going back to the 2020 playoffs [series against the Braves in the NLCS] and just figuring out how to get it out isn’t really easy,” Barnes said. “His control of the zone, his presence, and his ability to deal damage in many squares is pretty insane.”

Dodgers' Mookie Betts laughs with Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman.

Mookie Betts (left) and Freddie Freeman laughing during the 2021 playoffs will be Dodgers teammates this season.

(Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

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

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

Trea Turner, on the other hand, has seen Freeman as many times as any other Dodger and played against him in the NL East for years while he was in the Washington Nationals. When Turner received news of the signing Wednesday night, he compared the Dodgers to the fictional, seemingly invincible Monstars team from the sports movie Space Jam.

“The way they’ve structured the team and spent the money, but then they can act and design and develop,” Turner said, “it seems like it doesn’t matter what they’re doing, it seems like the right move to be.”

Of course, not all of the Dodgers’ big swings in recent seasons have spawned World Series rings.

While the addition of Mookie Betts paved the way to a championship in 2020, titles did not accompany trades for Yu Darvish and Manny Machado in 2017 and 2018, respectively. The similarly ambitious new signings of the past season with Trevor Bauer, Max Scherzer and Trea Turner could not prevent the disappointment in October.

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

Roberts added, “You still have to go out and play baseball. You still have to catch the baseball. You still have to serve.”

“But,” Roberts added, changing tone, “I can’t say enough about the team we have.”

In fact, that was the dominant mode Thursday at Dodgers Camp. The team saw themselves as title contenders even without Freeman. Now there is little doubt that they have enough pieces to become the league’s class.

“I can’t wait for him to come over here, it’s going to be fun,” Muncy said. “He’s a fun guy in the clubhouse, a fun guy on the field. This team will be amazing this year.” Dodgers are raving about adding Freddie Freeman to the lineup

Andrew Schnitker

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