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‘Twins, with a twist’ — How Freddie and Chelsea Freeman grew their family to five

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This is the family that Freddie and Chelsea Freeman wanted: lots of siblings who will grow up playing together, loving each other, helping each other. But the Freemans never could’ve imagined how they would get to where they are now, with 4-year-old Charlie and his two baby brothers.

After trying for pregnancy for a couple of years after Charlie was born, the Freemans explored fertility options, met with doctors and heard uncertainty about whether Chelsea would be able to have more children. Last spring, the Freemans arranged for a surrogate to carry their child — and in a surprising and happy development, Chelsea also became pregnant nearly simultaneously.

Charlie now has two little brothers: Brandon John, born Dec. 30, his name in honor of Chelsea’s grandfather; and Maximus Turner, born eight days ago on Valentine’s Day, his middle name a reference to the ballpark where Freddie Freeman played his first home game with the Atlanta Braves. The babies and Chelsea are doing well and are healthy, although it’s inevitable that father and mother will be sleep-deprived.

“We’re going to be tired for 25 years,” said Freddie, the longtime first baseman and 2020 National League MVP.

The Freemans said they will borrow the verbiage of another couple who had babies under similar circumstances: “Twins, with a twist.”

The Freemans talked about their journey Monday evening, with aspirations of providing hope for couples struggling with fertility questions and to help destigmatize the choice of a surrogate.

“Every pregnancy and fertility journey is a little bit different for everyone, and we wanted to respect our surrogate’s privacy, as well,” Freddie said. “I think it’s an inspirational story that we have.

“We tried for a couple of years, and it didn’t happen. We were talking with doctors, and they suggested surrogacy. We jumped at that, because we wanted to be blessed with more kids.”

Freddie’s mother, Rosemary, died when he was 10 years old. He grew up very close with his father, Fred. After Chelsea met Freddie, she learned very quickly that he wanted to have a big family.

“As long as I’ve known him, he said that since he was a little boy, he always knew he wanted to be a dad,” Chelsea said in an interview in November. “As important as being a baseball player to him is, I think being a dad is even more important.”

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Freddie Freeman’s son, Charlie, shows off his power while taking some swings indoors off a tee.

When the Freemans decided to start a family, Chelsea quickly became pregnant with Charlie. At his delivery, she had an emergency cesarean section. Freddie noted Monday that some of the complications in that procedure might have affected their attempts for a second child.

“I thought, ‘You know, this time it’ll be the same,'” Chelsea said. “I had a couple of girlfriends and we were all trying at the same time. Slowly, they got pregnant and I didn’t. That was a tough time for us.

“It was too painful to even talk about at that point. So eventually, after it’d been like a year and a half, I was like, ‘We need to come up with a plan.'”

As the months passed and the home pregnancy tests came up negative, the couple began consulting with physicians.

“It was a lot of doctors’ appointments, a lot of procedures, a lot of tests,” Chelsea said. “A lot of them by myself, because it was during the baseball season. It’s all worth it in the end, but going through that … definitely one of the hardest things mentally that you could go through.”

“The hardest part about going through infertility is the emotion. You are so drained, because you don’t know why — like, ‘Why isn’t it happening? How is this part of God’s plan?’ You think about those things.”

As Freddie said, “We did all of the doctors’ appointments and, you know, it wasn’t happening. We didn’t know if we were ever going to have another kid again. We were told by a couple of people she wasn’t going to be able to carry anymore.”

They quickly embraced the idea of a surrogate. Last spring, Chelsea underwent a procedure to prepare for an embryo transfer; Freddie carried a phone in the back pocket of his uniform to hear word.

The onset of COVID-19 delayed the embryo transfer, however. Nine days before the rescheduled date, Chelsea took another pregnancy test — one of dozens and dozens after Charlie’s birth — and saw she was pregnant.

“I started crying, and then I was freaking out,” she remembered. “And then it’s just all of those emotions again. It really did feel like immediately I was healed, all the stress and everything lifted off my shoulders when I saw that positive.”

Freddie was working out at the time. So Chelsea scrambled to arrange for a way to tell him, asking Charlie to draw a picture of her with a baby in her belly. When Freddie came through the door, he was initially confused — until he saw the positive test.

“No way,” he said. “Are you serious?”

He hugged Chelsea, and they broke down together.

“We went from one to three,” he said, happily.

The doctors asked if they wanted to go ahead with the embryo transfer. The Freemans did not hesitate in saying yes.

Freddie is generally a private person, with no interest in social media. But last year, Chelsea took to Instagram to talk about the fertility issues that they had faced.

“When she told that story,” Freddie recalled, “it was just like — we’re normal people, you know. I know you guys see me on TV a lot, playing baseball, but we go through the same things. We tried so hard.”

Chelsea gave birth to Brandon on Dec. 30, after four hours of labor.

And the Freemans’ surrogate delivered Maximus on Feb. 14. “What an amazing woman, from an amazing family, and she really helped us out,” Freddie said.

Chelsea said, “It was always my dream to have three kids by the time I was 30. When my 29th birthday came around and I still wasn’t pregnant, I never thought it would be possible. I think our story is definitely a story that God always has a bigger plan. … Whether a family is looking towards fostering, adoption or surrogacy, children — no matter which way they come — are truly a blessing for any family.”

Now the Freemans are a party of five — with Charlie at the perfect age to be an older sibling, Freddie said, helping with pacifiers and blankets and, on Monday evening, wearing pajamas that matched those of his little brothers.



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Reports — Tyler Clippard agrees to 1-year deal with Arizona Diamondbacks

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Arizona Diamondbacks have agreed to a $2.25 million, one-year contract with reliever Tyler Clippard, according to multiple reports.

The agreement, reached on Monday, is pending a physical. The deal includes a $1.75 million salary this year and a $3.5 million mutual option for 2022 with a $500,000 buyout.

The 36-year-old right-hander is a two-time All-Star and has 777 appearances over 14 seasons with a career 3.13 ERA. He had a 2.77 ERA in 26 appearances with the Minnesota Twins last season, when he made $1,018,519 in prorated pay from a $2.75 million base salary plus $190,021 in earned bonuses for total income of $1,208,540.

This will be Clippard’s second stint with the Diamondbacks. He appeared in 40 games with the team in 2016 before being sent to the New York Yankees in a trade.

Clippard is the second veteran bullpen arm the D-backs have signed in the past few weeks. Arizona also signed right-hander Joakim Soria to a $3.5 million, one-year deal. Both pitchers could have a chance to earn the closer’s role in a Diamondbacks bullpen that figures to be young and inexperienced.

The Arizona Republic first reported Clippard’s deal with the D-backs.

The Diamondbacks also confirmed a $1.75 million, one-year deal with infielder Asdrubal Cabrera. The 35-year-old was in D-backs camp on Monday when the team went through its first workout of the spring with the full roster.

Cabrera made $925,926 in prorated pay from a $2.5 million salary last year plus $186,604 in earned bonuses for total income of $1,112,530.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Carlos Correa open to long-term contract with Houston Astros, if done before season starts

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HOUSTON — If the Houston Astros want to sign shortstop Carlos Correa to a long-term contract, he says they need to do it before opening day.

“I feel so good, my body feels so great and I feel like I’m going to have such a great season that once the season starts, I don’t want to be involved with or distracted with those conversations,” Correa said Monday after the Astros held their first full-squad workout of the spring.

The Astros avoided arbitration with Correa, who can become a free agent at the end of the season, by signing him to a one-year, $11.7 million contract.

Correa has spent his entire career with the Astros after they selected him with the first overall pick in the 2012 draft. He said he’d like to stay in Houston, but so far, the team hasn’t talked to him about an extension.

“There’s no talks right now about that,” he said. “Talks are nowhere right now. I leave that up to my agent and the organization, but right now, there’s no talks about it. I haven’t heard from them since the arbitration was settled. That’s where we are right now.”

If Correa does hit the free agent market, he’ll do it with a strong group of shortstops that could include Javier Báez, Francisco Lindor, Trevor Story and Corey Seager. Correa will be just 27 years old when he’s eligible for free agency if he doesn’t agree to an extension with the Astros.

“I’ll be really young. I’ll be one of the youngest players going to free agency next year,” he said. “I feel like it would take the right deal to stay here. I’m not going to sell myself short, but at the same time, I know what I’m worth … I’m expecting to have a great, healthy season, which will help my case for free agency being the youngest shortstop out there. We’ll see how it goes.”

Houston’s other two stars on the infield have already agreed to long-term contracts – second baseman Jose Altuve signed a five-year, $151 million deal in 2018 and third baseman Alex Bregman agreed to a six-year, $100 million contract in 2019. The Astros lost star outfielder George Springer this off-season when he signed a six-year, $150 million deal with the Blue Jays.

Correa, who was the 2015 American League Rookie of the Year, is a career .276 hitter with 107 homers and 397 RBI in six major league seasons. He hit .264 with five homers and 25 RBI in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, but heated up in the postseason where he had six homers and 17 RBI to help the Astros to the ALCS.

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Fernando Tatis Jr. cites legacy as reason for 14-year deal with San Diego Padres

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SAN DIEGO — In discussing options for a long-term deal with electrifying young shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., the San Diego Padres brought up the concept of “a statue contract.”

As in, if the kid is as good as Hall of Famers Tony Gwynn and Trevor Hoffman were, maybe in 15 or 20 years there will be a statue of “El Niño” alongside those Padres greats in a grassy area just beyond Petco Park.

The options were year-to-year, a multiyear deal that bought out a year or two of Tatis’ free agency or a contract in which Tatis was with the Padres for likely the rest of his career.

“In typical Tati fashion, his only real comment was, ‘Why not my whole career?'” general manager A.J. Preller said Monday in announcing the two sides had finalized Tatis’ $340 million, 14-year contract, the longest in baseball history.

“He wanted to be one of those very unique players that plays his career in one spot,” Preller said. “He loves the franchise, he loves the city, he loves his teammates and he talked a lot about really wanting to get on the path of that statue contract.”

Said Tatis: “I want the statue on one team. I want to be able to stay on one team and build my legacy over here in San Diego.”

If Tatis and the Padres are correct, the big decision will be which version of “El Niño” the statue shows: the one one making slick plays at shortstop, the one with a “Matrix”-type move to avoid being tagged out at first base or the one with the epic bat flip after homering for the second time in a playoff game?

“I’m going to put those numbers first and then we can discuss it,” Tatis said with a laugh during a videoconference from spring training in Peoria, Arizona. “I don’t know. Maybe we can have three statues in different ways. We will see what happens.”

Tatis, 22, had been eligible for salary arbitration after this season and for free agency after the 2024 season.

A son of former big league infielder Fernando Tatis, he has played in only 143 games during two seasons, including the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, yet has quickly become one of the faces of baseball.

He stands out because of his flair, easy smile, blond dreadlocks flowing from under his cap and his dance moves in the dugout after hitting home runs.

Most importantly to the Padres, Tatis has made baseball fun again in San Diego after years of futility. He helped San Diego end a 13-year playoff drought in 2020 and win a wild-card series against the St. Louis Cardinals before the Padres were swept by the rival Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL Division Series.

“I’m just the same kid on the field. Nothing’s going to change,” he said. “I’m playing the game I love. And I feel when you do the things with passion and with love, I feel like it’s going to reward you. And I feel like when people ask me how I’m going to play this game, I’m just going to be the same kid every single time.”

Tatis has dared to challenge old-school norms. After hitting his second home run in an 11-9 win in Game 2 of the wild-card series against the Cardinals, he unleashed an emphatic bat flip. A photo of Tatis in that moment is on the cover of the video game “MLB The Show ’21.”

In August, Tatis caused a stir when he hit a grand slam on a 3-0 count with the Padres leading the Texas Rangers by seven runs. The furor died down, and the Padres became the first team in MLB history to hit grand slams in four straight games and five in six games, leading to the nickname “Slam Diego.”

“He has a tremendous respect for the game of baseball. A lot was made last year, young players changing the game of baseball,” Preller said. “What results in success, it doesn’t really change from era to era. Some of the styles change, maybe some of the skills change at times, but he respects greatness, he respects the people that have come before him. A lot of that credit goes to his family.”

Tatis has hit .301 with 39 home runs, 98 RBIs and 27 stolen bases in 143 games.

San Diego promoted Tatis to the majors on opening day of 2019, forgoing the chance to delay his free agency by waiting a few weeks — a reality of the game experienced by other young stars like Kris Bryant with the Chicago Cubs and Bryce Harper with the Washington Nationals.

The length of Tatis’ contract exceeds the $325 million, 13-year agreement in November 2014 between Miami and Giancarlo Stanton, who was traded to the New York Yankees in December 2017, and the $330 million, 13-year contract ahead of the 2019 season between Harper and Philadelphia.

Baseball’s biggest deal by dollars remains Mike Trout’s $426.5 million, 12-year contract signed with the Angels in March 2019. Tatis’ deal is the third-largest, also trailing Mookie Betts‘ $365 million, 12-year contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers that starts this season.

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