Against the Dodgers over the weekend, the Braves honored Freeman, who signed a six-year, $162 million deal with Los Angeles in the off-season after 12 years in Atlanta, and presented him with his World Series ring. He cried throughout a news conference before Friday’s game, during the ring ceremony and during a standing ovation before his first at-bat.
Freeman, who is from Southern California, had wanted to remain in Atlanta but he took the Dodgers’ slightly larger offer when the club that drafted him chose not to match it. Will Swanson, who was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2015 but traded to his hometown team the same year, be the star who stays?
“I mean, who does know, right?” he said, adding that he and his fiancée, the pro soccer player Mallory Pugh, have prayed about his future. Swanson, who has a career .742 O.P.S., added later, “It’s been a huge blessing to be here. I have four nephews and they’re all here, and to see them grow up, and to be with my family and with my friends, the people I grew up with, my community of people, is an amazing blessing and definitely something that I do not take for granted.”
D’Arnaud said he hoped Swanson would remain with Atlanta for the rest of his career. The two have already helped the team win a championship but are aiming for one of the most difficult achievements in baseball: back-to-back titles. The last team to repeat as champion was the Yankees, who won three straight from 1998 to 2000. That’s 21 consecutive seasons without another repeat winner, the longest such streak in league history.
“For us to do it again, we know that the odds are against us,” d’Arnaud said. He added later, “You can’t control injuries, you can’t control how people play, you can’t control how teams pitch against you. The only thing you can really control is your attitude.”
Having this season’s turnaround start two weeks earlier than last year’s should help as well.