There is no contingency plan to replace a superstar. But that’s exactly what the Atlanta Braves have been tasked with after losing All-Star first baseman Freddie Freeman to a broken wrist on May 17.
Enter Matt Adams.
Acting quickly, Atlanta general manager John Coppolella found a trade partner and brokered a deal to acquire a lefty-hitting slugger to help offset the loss of Freeman, who is expected to miss 10 weeks. And he did it at very little cost within 48 hours of his club’s biggest setback of the season.
While no one is expecting Adams to post the kind of gaudy numbers that were beginning to make Freeman a household name in baseball circles, the early returns have been encouraging.
“We had a chance to get a player like Matt Adams and we feel like that’s a way to help make us a better club for right now,” Coppolella said. “He’s somebody who can play first base. He’s also played left field. He’s a good bat off the bench and he will help us even when Freddie Freeman comes back.”
Adams, who turns 29 later this summer, slugged a pair of home runs and also provided a game-winning hit in a pair of wins over the Pittsburgh Pirates. The home runs, both moonshots, were a reminder of the prodigious power Adams possesses. That could come in handy over the next two months.
While it will not be easy for Atlanta to go without its star slugger in Freeman, adding a power source like Adams could lessen the burden on middle-of-the-lineup bats like Matt Kemp and Nick Markakis. In addition to the loss of production in the lineup, the mental toll on a team that loses its best player cannot go overlooked.
That’s where Adams’ arrival is already paying immediate dividends.
“It does a lot for that clubhouse in there and it didn’t take long either,” said Braves manager Brian Snitker. “They pulled that off and my hat’s off to [the front office] because that sends a really good message to those guys in there that we’re serious about what we’re doing. Getting Matt, I don’t know how we could’ve done any better.”
The Cardinals had relegated Adams to a bench role, limiting him to just 48 at-bats over 31 games this season. Given his age and a .272/.316/.458 career slash line that includes 58 home runs among his 147 extra-base hits in 1,442 at-bats, it would appear the Braves found a useful piece essentially going unused by his former team.
“It’s a change, but it’s a great place to come be a part of,” Adams said of the trade that brought him to Atlanta. “Great organization, great players and a lot of guys who want to go out there and win. I’m happy to be a part of it for sure.”
Replacing Freeman will be no easy task. He was third in all of MLB behind Mike Trout and Bryce Harper in wins above replacement and ranked at or near the top in most offensive categories.
“They know I’m not trying to come in here and be Freddie,” Adams added. “That’s not who I am. I’ve just got to be myself and just out there and play. I’m just excited to have the opportunity and I’m just going to try to run with it.”
Grant McAuley covers the Braves and MLB for 92-9 The Game. You can hear his show, “Around The Big Leagues” on Saturday mornings from 9-11 a.m. Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, SoundCloud and Stitcher. Follow Grant on Twitter and Facebook.