Dodgers ‘super excited’ to add Freddie Freeman to ‘Monstars’ cast – Press Enterprise

GLENDALE, Ariz. — At the Camelback Ranch clubhouse Wednesday morning, aide Jimmy Nelson joked about how busy the Dodgers’ front office has been this week.

“They’re busy hoarding all the talent and building a ‘Space Jam’ super team,” joked Nelson.

After all, he wasn’t joking. It was revealed Wednesday night that the Dodgers had signed free-agent first baseman Freddie Freeman, resulting in Trea Turner having the same animated image.

“I said that to someone last night,” Turner said of his immediate reaction. “They said, ‘You got Freddie Freeman?’ I said ‘The Monstars’. I just replied “The Monstars”.

“The way they structured the team and they spend the money, but then they can act and design and develop, it seems like it doesn’t matter what they do, it seems like the right move. You pull your cap off Andrew (Friedman) and all the people in the front office who make these decisions because they give us a good chance of winning every year. He will be a big piece for us.”

For Max Muncy, “It never ceases to amaze that we’re able to make moves like this…and at the same time we still have the best farming system in baseball.

“I think it just speaks to Andrew and the work that he can do, that we can fill up every year and still have the prospects that we have,” he said. “It’s quite an incredible job. … It amazes me every time.”

Just the latest ‘Monstar’ piece to be acquired by the Dodgers, Freeman follows in the recent footsteps of Mookie Betts, Max Scherzer and Turner himself (with Manny Machado and Yu Darvish appearing in cameo roles in previous seasons ).

On many days, eight of the Dodgers’ nine position players will be former All-Stars (only Will Smith has yet to make his first). If Clayton Kershaw starts, they could have four former MVPs on the starting lineup (Kershaw and Freeman plus Betts and Cody Bellinger).

“On paper it’s a great ball club. The lineup is the best I’ve seen,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said, admitting he’s been tinkering with some potential Freeman-inspired lineup combinations over the “recent days” as the signing looks increasingly likely seemed to be

“It was late last night when we got some things done and completed,” Roberts said. “Waking up this morning and being like, ‘Man — did that really happen?’ For me personally it was like Mookie Betts (Handels) again. I convinced myself it was real, it was happening.

“Once he gets here and I can see him in that Dodger uniform, it’s going to be really real for all of us.”

Freeman took his physical Thursday in Los Angeles and Roberts said he expects his new first baseman to be at camp Friday.

He will come with glowing recommendations.

“Freddie Freeman – he’s the best in the business,” said reliever Shane Greene, a teammate of Freeman for parts of three seasons in Atlanta, now at camp with the Dodgers as a non-roster invitee.

“Total gamer, you’ll never know if he’s struggling with any injury or anything because he’s going to play through it. He’ll be out there 160 times. Professional at-bat no matter what.

“MV-Free, he’s the guy.”

A Florida native, Greene followed the Braves growing up and he feels the pain of Braves fans who thought Freeman would never leave them.

“Obviously this is a sensitive issue,” Greene said. “I grew up with Chipper Jones and the Braves. Chipper was my type growing up. Everyone thought Freddie was another chipper. Definitely a little surprising (that he left Atlanta). But I love that I can still be his teammate.”

Freeman’s signing to six years and $162 million brings the Dodgers’ projected 2022 payroll to about $280 million, deep into the third tier of MLB’s competitive balance sheet tax threshold. After a winter of bickering over game finances and a series of hiring decisions by some teams aimed more at losing money than being competitive, the Dodgers’ approach is certainly appreciated in their clubhouse.

“Yes, absolutely,” Kershaw said. “I mean, since they (the Guggenheim ownership group) came here in 2012, we’ve spent money. We went and made it. Some years have been a bit different than others but I would say most of the time they have been pretty consistent in their actions and have shown us that they really want to do whatever it takes to win.

“I’m grateful for that. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to come back. That’s one of the reasons we all wanted to be in this clubhouse on this occasion. You can still see what’s going on with other teams right now, so it’s just more reason to be happy to be here.”

However, there are no guarantees for the money spent. The Dodgers are the fifth team in MLB history with as many as four former MVPs, joining the 1996 Boston Red Sox, 1982 California Angels, 1978 Cincinnati Reds and last year’s Dodgers.

But none of the previous four won the World Series that year.

“We have an All-Stars positional roster, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to win,” Kershaw said. “We have to come together as a team because there are some things in the culture and chemistry and things like that that you have to work on. You can’t just assume that we’re going to win because we have nine of the best players in the game every day. We must and will work on that. We will be good at it.”

Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner agreed that a paper tiger can only go so far.

“I don’t think it changes how we operate,” Turner said. “One of the things I love most about baseball is that it doesn’t matter what it says on paper. You still have to go out and play the game. So it’s obviously an excellent addition on paper. But we still have a lot of work to do and need to go out every night and do the little things to win ball games.”


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