One veteran free agent who hasn’t been getting a lot of attention is David Freese, who last played with the Los Angeles Angels but won’t be going back there. Where does he end up? Options are limited of course, but one of the following three: Atlanta Braves, Houston Astros and the Cleveland Indians, sound like a good fit.
While Freese is still an above average bat as he approaches 33, an average defender and missed games on injuries that don’t seem to hold any long term concerns, he hasn’t been drowning in offers this winter. Teams seem to be weary of veterans who aren’t exceptional or willing to come exceptionally cheap. Freese made $6.4 million last season in Anaheim and while there were talks about coming back, it’s not going to happen, and neither is going to the White Sox.
Freese hasn’t played anything but third base or Designated Hitter in some time, and that’s pretty much the only slots he’d be considered for. He hit 14 home runs in 121 games last season for the Angels, coming with a .257 batting average and a .743 OPS. Slightly below his career average per 162 games, which means he’s still productive, but he’s at that age when batters begin to decline, injury or no.
It will be surprising to see him end up without a team. The Indians have been looking for an infield bat for quite some time after their third basemen batted a combined .228/.273/.356 in 2015. The options they have are young and better defensively, but the Indians want more offense, and if they come down from going after Juan Uribe, Freese is a good player to settle for.
The Astros could be an even better fit because of their home park. Luis Valbuena can play at first base which will also allow the Astros to slow down things with A.J. Reed. Plus there’s also the fact that he knows someone running the team. General Manager Jeff Luhnow worked in the scouting department of the St. Louis Cardinals until 2011. Freese was a Cardinal from 2009 to 2013.
And then there are the Braves. A sorta rebuilding team but not all the way, and certainly not taking. Their plan right now is to go with the combination of Kelly Johnson and Adonis Garcia at third base, but Freese is a better batting option than both of them, and for teams seeking some consistency at the spot offensively without committing for more than a year, Freese seems like the right player to sign.