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Freeman humbled by biggest deal in Braves’ history
“I’m going to go out there and just keep trying to get better,” he said Wednesday, a day after his $135 million, eight-year deal was finalized. “I progressively got better the last three years. Hopefully, I can stay healthy and continue to do so. I’m not going to try to put extra pressure, just go out there and keep doing what I’ve been doing.”
Freeman already has plans on how to spend some of the money.
“The first thing I’ve got to do is pay for a wedding,” he said, looking ahead to the Nov. 22 ceremony.
Freeman’s fiance, Chelsea Goff, sat in the front during the news conference alongside the player’s father. She said planned to shop for a wedding gown on Thursday.
Freeman gets a $2,875,000 signing bonus, of which $1,875,000 is payable on May 1 and $1 million on July 1. He receives salaries of $5,125,000 this year, $8.5 million in 2015, $12 million in 2016, $20.5 million in 2017, $21 million in each of the following two years and $22 million in each of the final two seasons.
The agreement covers three arbitration-eligible seasons and five years in which he could have become a free agent.
Freeman’s deal tops the $90 million, six-year contract for Chipper Jones that covered 2001-06 and came one year after the Braves gave outfielder B.J. Upton the biggest contract for a free agent in team history - $75.25 million for five years.
Upton struggled in his first year in Atlanta, hitting only .184 and losing his starting job. After the season, general manager Frank Wren said Upton may have felt too much pressure.
“One of the things we were looking at was … the right timing,” Wren said. “Has the player established himself well enough that this won’t affect him one way or the other? This was the perfect timing for us.”
Freeman, 24, has played only three full seasons. He was an All-Star last year, when he hit .319 with 23 homers and 109 RBIs. He matched his career high in home runs, set highs in batting average and RBIs and finished fifth in NL MVP voting. He has topped 20 home runs in three straight seasons.
“He keeps getting better,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “I think before all this is said and done, it’s going to be a contract that’s well worth it because he’s going to keep getting better. His numbers are going to keep getting better. Last year he set out to drive in 100 runs. And he did it.”
Freeman said he was humbled to receive the long extension so early in his career.
“For them to believe in me with this kind of contract is truly an honor, humbling,” he said. “But to happen this young, I never thought it would be even possible.”
By Joy Overbeck
Redemption by government is futile
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