Rangers, Yankees Resuming Pursuit Of Matt Olson Trade

Athletics Trade Matt Olson To Braves

1:20pm: The Athletics have announced the trade of Olson to the Braves in exchange for Pache, Langeliers, Estes and Cusick. The deal is official.

1:16pm: The Braves are trading outfielder Christian Pachecatch Shea Langeliersright-hander Joey Estes and right-hander ryan cusick to the A’s in exchange for Olson, Passan tweets.

1:09pm: The Braves and A’s have agreed to a trade that will send first baseman Matt Olson from Oakland to Atlanta, reports ESPN’s Jeff Passan (through Twitter). The forthcoming blockbuster ostensibly serves as a porter for the departure of Braves franchise icon Freddie Freeman, though no formal decision from Freeman has been reported or announced. MLB.com’s Mark Bowman, however, tweet Freeman is likely headed elsewhere and that there was “never a sense the Braves made a strong push.”

The acquisition of Olson will be a bittersweet one for many Braves fans. While Olson is an elite first baseman with Atlanta roots, it’s long been difficult to fathom Freeman, the 2020 National League MVP, ultimately moving on and signing with a new team. Freeman was a homegrown star in every sense of the word, going from No. 78 overall draft pick in 2007 to a five-time All-Star, league MVP and World Series champion. He’s spent the past 12 seasons in Atlanta, thanks in large part to an eight-year, $135MM contract extension that kept him in Braves gear long beyond his arbitration years. Freeman has become one with the Braves, but it now appears all but certain that this is a changing of the guard.

As far as replacements for Freeman go, it’s tough to dream up a better option than the Atlanta-born Olson, however. Set to turn 28 later this month, Olson is a two-time Gold Glover at first base who just wrapped up a career year that netted him his first All-Star nod. Over the past three years, Olson has cemented himself as one of the premier power threats in the game, swatting 89 home runs and 65 doubles while playing his home games in the cavernous Oakland Coliseum. This past season, Olson shed the “strikeout-prone” label when he cut his strikeout rate from 27.5% in 2019-20 all the way down to 16.8%. He did so while maintaining an excellent 13.1% walk rate and turning in the finest overall season of his career: .271/.371/.540 with a career-high 39 home runs.

The Braves will control Olson for at least the next two seasons, as he’s currently sitting on four-plus years of Major League service time. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects a $12MM salary for Olson this coming season, and he’ll be due one more raise on that sum before qualifying as a free agent after the 2023 season. Of course, the Braves could well look to sign Olson to a long-term deal that would keep him with his hometown club far longer than those remaining two years of control. Atlanta reportedly balked at going six or more years on a potential Freeman extension, but Olson is four and a half years younger than Freeman, which could alleviate concerns about an eventual decline in the late stages of a long-term deal.

More to come.

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