Freddie Freeman: “I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people.”

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According to FanGraphs, the only team in the major leagues projected to finish worse than the Braves (71-91) are the division rival Phillies (68-94). Don’t tell Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman, though. Despite a new-look team now bereft of productive veterans such as Justin Upton, Jason Heyward, and Evan Gattis, Freeman still thinks his team will end up being competitive in 2015. He even went as far as to say, “I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people.”

Via MLB.com’s Mark Bowman:

“It’s going to be different than what I’m used to, but it’s exciting,” Freeman said. “We’ve got a whole different team. Obviously as a person and a friend, it’s tough to see your friends leave — especially with Jason leaving. We’ve got Shelby [Miller] here now and we’ve got a lot of young talent. I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people.”

Aside from the Nationals, the NL East is not particularly strong, so inter-divisional play against the Phillies, Mets, and Marlins could inflate their win total more than we might expect. But even that’s a generous interpretation of the Braves’ chances.

Royals, Alex Gordon close to contract agreement

Alex Gordon
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MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan reports that the Royals and outfielder Alex Gordon are “getting close” to an agreement on a one-year contract. Terms of the deal aren’t yet known, but the Royals could make it official within the next few days.

Gordon, who turns 36 years old next month, hit .266/.345/.396 with 13 home runs and 76 RBI over 633 plate appearances with the Royals this past season. His offense has waned, owning an adjusted OPS of 84 since 2016 (100 is average), but he still plays decent defense.

Gordon has spent all 13 years of his major league career with the Royals. With the club in a rebuilding phase, he will serve as the clubhouse leader and be a mentor to younger players on the roster.