The wrist injury of Freddie Freeman is causing a major uproar among the front office and fans. Freeman is expected to miss significant time following the injury, but Braves officials will not have an official update until later Thursday afternoon. Freeman left Wednesday nights game after being hit in the wrist area from a 94 MPH fastball. He was the seventh player hit by the Blue Jays in a 3 game span. Tensions quickly rose after that and the benches cleared twice during the matchup. Freeman holds a .343 batting average and leads the league in homeruns with 14. Recent speculation is that Freeman will miss a minimum of 6 to 8 weeks, but depending on the severity could miss up to 3 months. If Freeman is to miss significant time it will devastate the lineup and the Braves might be forced to make a move outside the organization. It is merely impossible for the Braves to replace the production of Freeman, but for them to remain slightly competitive, an outside move might be made.
One option is to sign James Loney who was recently released by the Tigers. Loney is a career .284 hitter and would provide a solid first base option for the Braves. He filled in last year for the Mets star Lucas Duda while he battled through an injury and hit .265 in 343 plate appearances. However, this season for the Tigers Triple A affiliate he hit 200/.351/.222 in 57 plate appearances before being released. Loney would provide veteran leadership and experience and has always been a productive Major League hitter.
Kelly Johnson is another option that sure is familiar with the Braves. He has signed with the Braves the past two seasons and was a productive bench piece that has experience at first base. He would provide power and can handle the hassle of playing first base everyday. He is currently unsigned, but he might be hesitant to sign in fear of being traded to the Mets again once Freeman returns.
Jon Singleton is a minor leaguer in the Houston Astros organization that the Braves could also look into. While his MLB numbers and current Double-A numbers are not great, he could handle first base and provide a little power to the lineup. He is a fill in that the Braves can get and not have to give that much in return to get him. This trade is far fetched, but according to Braves reporter Grant McAuley, it is an option they might look at.
A few in house option might include calling up Gwinnett third baseman Rio Ruiz. He worked out at first base during the spring and would split playing time with Jace Peterson at first and third depending on who the Braves are most comfortable with at each position. Another option is Nick Markakis. Markakis has played first before in his career, but has not had extended playing time there. That option might be a little far fetched as well, but it is a possibility if the Braves find themselves in a desperate situation.
The injury to Freeman causes a big hole on the team and organization. Unfortunately, the Braves find themselves in an even bigger hole because their lack of depth and talent on the bench as well. Not to mention losing Sean Rodriguez for the entire season causes insult to injury because he is desperately needed right now. Losing Freeman for a significant amount of time is literally the worst case scenario for the team. One thing is certain, do not expect a big or sexy move. While the Braves have been playing great baseball as of late, they are not in contention for a playoff spot and there is zero reason to make a big trade and lose prospects. This is still a rebuild and the Braves will need to make a low cost move to fill in for Freeman’s absence. There is no way to replace one of the most productive hitters in baseball, but the Braves just hope they can get some sort of serviceability out of whoever they decide to fill in.