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Marlins freed from facing Freddie Freeman as a division rival

The longtime Braves first baseman signed with a six-year deal with the Dodgers late Wednesday night.

Atlanta Braves First base Freddie Freeman (5) during an MLB game between the Miami Marlins and the Atlanta Braves on July 4, 2021 at Truist Park Photo by Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Another notorious “Marlins Killer” has exited the National League East. One month after Ryan Zimmerman decided to hang up his cleats, former Braves star Freddie Freeman has signed a six-year, $162 million free agent contract with the Dodgers. The deal could be announced as soon as Thursday.

The news broke just days after the reigning NL East and World Series champs traded for and extended Matt Olson to be their new first baseman and mere hours after Freeman said goodbye to “Braves Country” via Instagram. The Yankees, Red Sox, Rays and Blue Jays were among the other teams who reportedly pursued Freeman.

Freeman tormented Marlins pitchers during his 12 seasons with the Braves, particularly over the last six (OPS of .998 or higher in each of those years). He has more career hits (222), home runs (38), runs batted in (122), runs scored (127) and total bases (385) against the Fish than any other opponent. Hall of Famer Chipper Jones is the only MLB player in history with higher totals vs. the Marlins in each of those categories.

José Ureña has been one of Freeman’s favorite punching bags through the years. Freeman slashed .419/.500/1.000 in 36 plate appearances off the Miami right-hander, taking him deep four times.

Freeman is preposterously consistent whether he’s playing at home or on the road, as his career splits show. Combine that with the timing of his major league debut (September 2010), it’s no surprise that he holds numerous records for a visiting player at Marlins/LoanDepot Park. He has more career hits in Little Havana than Lewis Brinson and more career homers than Garrett Cooper.

The 32-year-old ain’t done bashing the Marlins yet. They will see him for a series on the west coast from August 19-21, then host him for four games the following week. The Dodgers and Marlins will meet annually for 5-7 regular season games for the foreseeable future, and if the Fish are fortunate enough to contend deep into October at some point, the road to the World Series will likely run through L.A.

As a storyteller, I am bummed that Freeman’s departure takes away a shred of familiarity from the Marlins-Braves rivalry. On the other hand, it should add more balance to their matchups moving forward (the Marlins have not won the season series since 2014).