Breaking Down The David Freese Extension

Aug 4, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman David Freese (23) celebrates a home run with teammates against the Atlanta Braves in the eighth inning at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 4, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman David Freese (23) celebrates a home run with teammates against the Atlanta Braves in the eighth inning at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports /
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On Monday, the Pittsburgh Pirates announced they have extended 1B/3B David Freese. David Freese will now be under team control through 2019.

On March 11th the Pittsburgh Pirates inked David Freese to a one-year, three million dollar contract. When this deal was announced many people were left scratching their heads. The reason for the head scratching was because Freese did not appear to have a spot in Pittsburgh.

When Freese was signed, Jung Ho Kang, despite beginning the year on the disabled list, appeared to have the starting third base job locked up. Also, entering 2016 Freese had primarily played only third base in the Major Leagues. However, as the 2016 season has gone one David Freese has proven to be one of the most important players on the Pirates’ roster.

This season David Freese has played plenty for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Not only has Freese played the hot corner, but he has also learned to play first base. From the time Kang returned from the disabled list in May until he returned to the DL on Sunday morning, Freese was platooning at first base with John Jaso.

The 2016 season has been a renaissance season for Daivd Freese. After posting just a 6.6 walk percent, .325 wOBA, and a 109 wRC+ in 2015, Freese has bounced back in a big way in 2016. Through his first 395 plate appearances this season David Freese is slashing .276/.357/.436/.793 to go with a 9.1 percent walk rate, .345 wOBA, and a 117 wRC+.

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2016 has been the best season David Freese has had since he was an All-Star in 2012. In fact, Freese already has a 1.7 WAR this season. Freese will undoubtedly surpass the 2.2 WAR he posted last season, and will most likely end up with his best WAR since being a 3.8 WAR player in 2012.

David Freese has also been a strong defender at both third and first base this season. Freese has six defensive runs saved and a 3.37 UZR/150 at third base this season. While at first base, Freese has zero defensive runs saved but a .993 fielding percentage.

All of this has resulted in Freese earning his new contract extension from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Freese, who was slated to become a free agent, is now signed for 2017 and 2018. Also, his contract includes a team option for 2019.

David Freese had been expressing interest in resigning with the Pirates for a few weeks now. And now his interest has turned into him remaining with the Pirates. The contract will guarantee Freese 11 million dollars over the course of the next two seasons. And this includes a team option for six million dollars in 2019.

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From the Pittsburgh Pirates’ official website:

"“It’s the Pirates. It’s a team that can compete to win. I think that’s the first thing I thought about when I signed here,” Freese said in front of his locker at PNC Park, hours after officially signing the contract. “I was so ecstatic that I was with a team, considering the situation I was in, that had a realistic shot to win this year and compete in years to come. Then you look around at the guys, from top to bottom, I love every one of them. It’s just a good fit.”"

How nice is it that after years of ineptitude, the Pittsburgh Pirates have become a destination franchise for players? General manager Neal Huntington deserves a lot of credit for that. Speaking of Huntington, he said yesterday that trading away Francisco Liriano and his contract made this extension possible. So, essentially, that trade has become Liriano, Harold Ramirez, and Reese McGuire for Drew Hutchison and David Freese. Personally, I’d make that trade every time. Plus, the Pirates still have approximately nine million dollars of Liriano money left to spend for 2017.

Looking ahead to 2017, things get interesting. The Pirates now have David Freese and Jung Ho Kang who can both play third base, John Jaso and Josh Bell who can both play first base, and Freese can play first base too. Ultimately, I believe Jaso will be traded this offseason. Josh Bell will be the team’s everyday first baseman in 2017, and I believe Freese and Kang will split time at third base.

David Freese is the third player that the Pittsburgh Pirates signed to a contract extension this season. Right fielder Gregory Polanco and catcher Francisco Cervelli were signed to extensions earlier this season. Once again, despite what some fans want to say or think, the Pirates have proven they will spend money to keep guys around.

Now that the Pittsburgh Pirates have extended David Freese, much of their 2017 roster is already set. 20 of the 25 players currently on the Pittsburgh Pirates’ 25 man roster are under contract next season. And this does not include players that are currently on the disabled list such as Chris Stewart, Jung Ho Kang, and Tyler Glasnow.