Friday, October 7 2022

PHOENIX — The Los Angeles Dodgers arrived to their clubhouse early Thursday morning, looked around, talked about the news heard ‘round the baseball world, and tried to act cool.

It proved to be impossible. The more they talked, the more they were questioned.

The Dodgers got their man, and they weren’t shy about shouting it to anyone who’d listen.

They landed All-Star first baseman and former MVP Freddie Freeman, signing him to a six-year, $162 million contract, and vowed to hug him with all of their might the moment he walks through the door Friday.

“Excited is probably an understatement,” Dodgers All-Star third baseman Justin Turner said. “Obviously, there’s been a lot of buildup. A lot of talk. A lot of anticipation as to what was going to happen.

“To finally see it go down and become official, I slept pretty good.”

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Sweet dreams for the Dodgers and a living nightmare for the rest of the National League — particularly the other four teams in the National League West.

“The lineup is as good a lineup as I’ve ever seen,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts gushed.

Take a look for yourself, it’s not hyperbole.

This is a lineup filled with eight All-Stars and three MVPs.

Unreal.

“It’s going to be fun, fun times,” Pollock said. “He’s an unbelievable player. The lineup will be awesome.

“It’s going to be cool to look back and say this is a lineup that I was part of.”

The Dodgers, of course, already had a powerful lineup, but now they’re adding a five-time All-Star who has hit .305 the past six seasons, averaging 33 homers and 102 RBI.

“He’s one of the best hitters this game has ever seen,” said Muncy, who is moving to second base to accommodate Freeman. “He makes our lineup so dangerous. It’s going to be fun to watch on a nightly basis, but on top of that, he gives us even a better chance to win another World Series.”

Justin Turner and Freddie Freeman during a June 2021 game in Atlanta,Justin Turner and Freddie Freeman during a June 2021 game in Atlanta,

Justin Turner and Freddie Freeman during a June 2021 game in Atlanta,

Freeman, of course, also has a chance to go back-to-back.

He won a World Series last year with Atlanta, knocking off the Dodgers in the NLCS, but instead of dreaming of having Freeman in his own lineup one day, Roberts still was seething.

“I wasn’t seeing Freddie Freeman in a good light at that point of time,” Roberts said.

The mood changed in November when Dodgers president Andrew Friedman telephoned and told him that they were going to actively pursue Freeman. Contract talks with Atlanta had stalled, with Atlanta refusing to give Freeman a six-year deal, and the Dodgers wanted to pounce on the opportunity.

Freeman had openly lobbied to return and Atlanta kept saying how much it wanted to keep him, but the Dodgers knew they were at stalemate, with tensions building. They had a much stronger chance of signing him than anyone realized.

Freeman grew up in Orange County, and his family lives in nearby Corona Del Mar. Having the chance to go home, with his parents and grandmother able to see him whenever they desired, the Dodgers were an easy fallback plan.

“There was a conversation to kick the tires to see if there’s a potential fit,” Roberts said. “He showed interest in our organization. And I thought it was sincere. He put himself in a situation to be where he wants to be — taking nothing away from his love for (Atlanta’s) organization — but as things played out, it just kind of become more of a realization.”

Roberts even offered his own sales pitch just before the lockout, actually calling Freeman from Betts’ wedding, telling him how much they wanted him. When Atlanta traded for first baseman Matt Olson of the Oakland A’s three days ago, signing him to an eight-year, $168 million contract, the Dodgers became the obvious choice.

“I don’t know if I’ve come across a guy, whether it be a trade or a call-up,” Roberts said, “that was as excited as Freddie Freeman was to be a Dodger. For him to come out west, to reconnect with family and friends here, and make Los Angeles his home, he’s over the moon.”

Just wait until Freeman steps into the clubhouse Friday and sees the star-studded group of players who have won at least 104 games in three of the last four full seasons, with three World Series appearances in the last five years.

“They’re dedicated to winning, and they want to do what’s necessary to help us win,” Turner said.

They needed a bat two years ago, and traded for MVP Mookie Betts along with former Cy Young award winner David Price with him. They needed an ace at last year’s trade deadline, so they acquired three-time Cy Young winner Max Scherzer along with All-Star shortstop Trea Turner. They could use another starter now, and no one has a doubts they’ll grab one.

“I don’t think I’ll ever get numb to it,” Muncy says, “but it’s non-stop amazement we’re able to make moves like this. We make moves like this, trades like this, and yet at the same time we have the best farm system in baseball.

“It’s pretty incredible.”

Says Roberts: “I don’t see any team in baseball that does it better than us.”

There are no guarantees, of course. There are concerns about the starting rotation. They don’t have a bona fide closer with Kenley Jansen still a free agent. And injuries can wreck absolute havoc with the best-laid plans.

Still, if the Dodgers have a need, you can rest assured they’ll address it.

“You can’t just assume that because we have nine of the best players in the game out there every day,” three-time Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw said, “that we’re going to win. We’ve got to come together as a team. …

“Obviously, the expectations are even higher now, but that’s what we want.”

It’s World Series championship or bust.

Once again.

“There’s an expectation in Los Angeles, the city of champions, to win,” Roberts said. “How do you win? You have superstars. …

“It’s a good day to be a Dodger.”

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Freddie Freeman signing Dodgers a historically great lineup

Source: Yahoo Sports

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