Since Freddie Freeman went down with a broken wrist that would sideline him till after the All-Star break, the Atlanta Braves have tried multiple players at first base, looking for any answer to replace their slugger, who was having an MVP caliber season before going down. The Braves then turned to the Cardinals, acquiring out of favor slugger Matt Adams for minor league first baseman Juan Yepez.
Matt Adams has been very good for Atlanta, producing far better in replacing Freeman than the organization probably hoped when he was acquired. At such little cost and under team control through 2018, Adams was a cheap option that could fill the void, and function and serve as a much-needed power bench bat whenever Freeman made his return.
So far, Adams has exceeded expectations, producing a .984 OPS in 29 games with the Braves coming into tonight’s matchup with the Giants. Adams has slugged 7 doubles, 1 triple and 10 home runs, driving in 27 runs and being a middle of the order bat the team needed.
As so, the prospect of keeping Adams’ bat in the lineup once Freeman returns has been discussed at lengths in recent weeks. Some have speculated Adams may be flipped by Atlanta at the deadline for prospects, while others wonder if Adams will be able to handle an outfield spot and being the first bat off the bench.
If the National League had a DH, this would not be a problem for the organization. Adams could DH and Freeman could resume his first base position, keeping both bats in the lineup. Since that isn’t possible, the Braves are looking at all possibilities, even one offered up by Freeman himself.
Freeman approached the organization around two weeks ago and proposed he move to third base upon return. The team has been using prospects Rio Ruiz and Johan Camargo at third base, but Freeman’s bat would easily eclipse anything produced by those two players, at least for now.
Freeman has never played third base in the majors or minors, so this would be an atypical solution to the problem. It doesn’t feel like a solution and could be a disaster, but it is at least being talked about through baseball.
Freeman was seen fielding ground balls at third base with coach Ron Washington, so the team is at least taking the steps for this to become a reality.
The Braves have struggled the past few years and many players want just want to win, including Freeman, and they are willing to make the happen as by any means necessary. Setting ego aside, Freeman, as the leader and superstar of the team, knows Matt Adams’ bat in the lineup every day gives the Braves their best chance of winning.
Still weeks away from returning, this point could prove to be moot if Adams bat cools off in the near future. While Adams has been fantastic, it is only a month, though he has proven over his career he can be a slugger, even if he struggled in recent years in St. Louis. While he will likely cool off to a degree, he provides a much needed power source and adds protection for other hitters in the lineup.
While this would be an offensive move by the club, the team defense will likely take a hit if the Braves opt to go this route. Freeman was considered a below average first baseman, and though he has a big arm, he has limited range going laterally.
At the hot corner, where moving laterally and increased athleticism is important, the Braves will likely take a hit. It remains to be seen if the team is willing to take the defensive hit and for how long, if the move comes to fruition.