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Houston Astros: Is Freddie Freeman the answer at first?

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One of the main questions going into the offseason for the Astros is who is going to play first base? With this Houston Astros team becoming relevant again after clinching their first playoff berth since 2005 with the top farm system in baseball, the Astros could be looking to be a part of a major deal to find that answer at first base. This week, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported that the Atlanta Braves are interested in deals involving their All-Star first baseman Freddie Freeman. The Astros should definitely be involved in these talks with the Braves, but are cautious about the price they are willing to pay for this All-Star, caliber player.

Freddie Freeman, a second-round draft pick of the Braves in 2007, has been arguably their best and most consistent player for the past six seasons. A career .285 hitter, the lefty Freeman, averages 22 home runs a season while driving in 91 runners. In his first full season in 2011, Freeman hit .281 with 21 home runs and 76 RBIs while finishing second in the National League Rookie of the Year voting. (All stats from Baseball-Reference)

The two-time All-Star signed an eight-year, $135 million contract in which he would be under club control through the 2021 season. The Braves are trying to unload some of the contacts they have including Andrelton Simmons’, who was traded to the Angles last week, who signed a seven-year, $58 million contract before the 2014 season.

With the Braves starting to rebuild in the preparation of their new stadium in 2018, what would the Astros have to give up in return for Freeman? We first have to look at what the Braves got in return for Simmons. The Angels gave up their starting shortstop Erick Aybar and two of their top pitching prospects in left-hander Sean Newcomb, who immediately took over the top spot on the Braves’ top prospect list, and Cliff Ellis.

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The Braves will be looking for more in return for Freeman so expect for them to be interested in someone like a highly touted first base prospect A.J. Reed, the second-best prospect in their farm system, right-hander Mark Appel, or even the newest draft pick, shortstop Alex Bregman (PTBNL). The Astros would have to make a deal for the Braves something that they cannot refuse and depending on who that entails; it could be devastating for this organization. However, Freeman is only 26 years old and is very consistent, playing 162 games in 2014.

I believe the Astros do have the answer inside their organization. Reed hit 35 home runs and 127 RBIs between Lancaster and AA Corpus Christi in 2015. Reed, the 2015 offensive player of the year for MILB.com, has the potential to be a huge offensive force for this team. Until then, Tyler White could be an option. White hit a combined .325 between AA Corpus Christi and AAA Fresno. In Fresno, White really found his bat. In 57 games, he hit .362 with seven home runs and 59 RBIs. He can also play across the diamond at third base.

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This Freeman deal really depends on what direction Jeff Luhnow and the Astros front office believe this team is headed. It would make the Astros better instantly and solidify a lineup that already has no trouble offensively. However, it would deplete the loads of talent in their farm system and might jeopardize the organization in the future. This would be a hard decision, but no matter what decision the organization makes, the Astros will find a way to win with or without a premier player such as Freeman.

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