The Atlanta Braves won the 2021 MLB World Series. Even after losing their best player in outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. midway through the season, the Braves never wavered. Instead, the team took on the underdog approach and won their first title since 1995 with star first baseman Freddie Freeman leading the charge. It was a big-time moment for the city of Atlanta. However, it was also a big-time moment for Freeman as his future was unclear after the season. With the MLB lockout, it is still unclear. However, the Atlanta Braves reported massive 2021 revenue in what was a major rebound from pandemic numbers.
According to Eric Fisher of The Sports Business Journal, “Liberty Media-owned Atlanta Braves report $568 million in revenue for 2021, $20 million in operating income, big shift from pandemic-impacted 2020 totals of $178 million in rev, $128 million operating loss. Adjusted OIBDA swings fr $53 million loss ’20 to $104 million gain in ’21.” 2020 hit every franchise hard due to the pandemic. However, things changed in 2021 and the Braves and ownership did extremely well.
It was a huge bounce-back on the financial front for the Braves. Especially in the fourth quarter, when stadiums were back to 100 percent capacity and the Braves went on their postseason run. Another interesting nugget that Liberty Media reported was, “Total cash and liquid investments attributed to the Braves Group increased $8 million during the fourth quarter as cash from operations primarily attributed to the postseason more than offset net debt repayment and capital expenditures related to the mixed-use development.”
Without fans in attendance, like in 2020, and the postseason run, these numbers would not have been possible.
So, what does that mean for Freeman and the Braves?
Freddie Freeman And The Braves
The Braves don’t have a plan B when it comes to losing Freeman, a former NL MVP winner. At least not on the same caliber. However, all offseason, fans have gotten antsy about his future with the team. A lot of that stems from the fact a deal did not get done before the MLB lockout. Freeman has been a franchise cornerstone for over a decade, and most fans thought he would not leave, especially considering the contracts the team did for Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna Jr.
MLB and former Atlanta Braves’ legend Chipper Jones said, “I don’t know, I haven’t talked to Freddie in quite some time, but I’m sure he’s probably a little frustrated this wasn’t done in Spring Training last year.”
Similar to Chipper, fans want to see Freeman retire a Brave and wrap up his prime here in Atlanta. Chipper continued, “But the fact of the matter is we didn’t have any fans in the stands. We’ve got owners that didn’t know where revenue was going to be at the end of the year and maybe held out a little bit. The bottom line is, Freddie I believe before it’s all said and done will be playing where he wants to play. I know he’s a West Coast guy. I know he has a home here in Atlanta. But Freddie, if he wants to play for the Atlanta Braves, he will be playing for the Atlanta Braves. I’ll leave it at that.”
Only time will tell if Freeman and the Braves make it work and come to a resolution.