The Pittsburgh Pirates have become attached to infielder David Freese – as have the team’s MLB betting fans – and after asking general manager Neal Huntington repeatedly if they could keep him, he finally relented and said “okay, but you’re going to have to look after him.” In this case, the looking after entails a guaranteed $11 million, two-year contract extension – $6.25 million in 2017, $4.25 million the following season, and a $6 million team option or a $500,000 buyout in 2019. Freese is not only a seasoned veteran and a clubhouse leader, but is having a remarkable latter-day campaign with the Bucs. It didn’t look quite like that about a year ago, though.
When Freese entered free agency in 2015, he had an uncertain future in the MLB. Odds were he might be left without a team, after the Angels of Anaheim decided to trade for Yunel Escobar instead of resigning Freese. Even when the Pirates came a-calling, they weren’t brimming with confidence, signing Freese to a one-year, $3 million deal. The 33 year old 2011 MVP World Series, however, is playing at his highest level since 2012, batting .276/.355/.437 with 12 home runs and 49 RBIs in 107 games. Additionally, Freese has developed an ability to play at first base to complement his usual duties at third base.
Needles to say, Freese has earned the trust of manager Clint Hurdle, his teammates, and Pittsburgh MLB betting fans. “David has been a consummate professional while producing offensively and playing solid defense at both third and first base to help this team win games,” Huntington said. Center fielder Andrew McCutchen even told MLB.com that “we love him here.” And the feeling is mutual. Freese would like to make a postseason run with McCutchen, just like he wanted to win a World Series with Cardinals teammates Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina, and with Mike Trout as part of the Angels. “When I'm done playing, decades from now, hopefully I have a chance to sit around and remember the relationships I had and hopefully still have,” said Freese.
The experienced ballplayer came through for the Pirates when third baseman Jung Ho Kang was recovering from surgery on his left knee. A healthy Kang is sure to remain the starting third baseman (hey, don’t blame me; I voted for Kodos), just like Josh Bell will be the starting first baseman in the near future – but just in case, in Freese, the Pirates have a versatile alternative that can cover either position should anything happen to either starter. In addition to outfielder Gregory Polanco and catcher Francisco Cervelli, Freese is the third player to sign an extension with the Pirates during this season. GM Huntington promised that the club would use the “financial flexibility” that resulted from packaging two prospects to trade Francisco Liriano and his $18 million salary over the next couple of years to strengthen the roster. So far, he has made good on his word, which should please MLB betting fans who support the Pirates.