The Atlanta Braves look as though they have their first baseman — and it isn’t Freddie Freeman.
ESPN’s Jeff Passan first reported on Monday that the Braves are acquiring Matt Olson from the Oakland Athletics, who are getting a haul of prospects in return.
Atlanta is sending outfielder Cristian Pache, catcher Shea Langeliers, and pitchers Ryan Cusick and Joey Estes.
Olson has developed into one of the best power-hitting first basemen in baseball, posting a .911 OPS with 39 home runs and 111 RBI in 2021 that saw him finish eighth in the American League MVP voting.
Matt Olson just addressed the trade with reporters in Mesa: pic.twitter.com/YtR7oaeBJP
— Matt Kawahara (@matthewkawahara) March 14, 2022
Over the past three seasons, his combined 89 home runs are tied for third-most in Major League Baseball behind only New York Mets slugger Pete Alonso and Eugenio Suarez of the Cincinnati Reds.
His glove is just as valuable as his bat, too. The two-time Gold Glove winner has a career defensive runs saved (DRS) above average mark of 34 in 548 career games at first base.
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Olson’s arrival in Atlanta surely spells the end of Freeman’s 12-year career with the Braves — a shocking development considering just how important the 32-year-old has been to the franchise. The five-time All-Star followed up a National League MVP in 2020 with a World Series MVP in 2021, helping the Braves win their first title since 1995.
Since 2016, he has posted 162-game averages of .305/.399/.547 (.946 OPS) with 33 home runs and 103 RBI.
As it stands, Freeman is expected to sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers — and the uncertainty of his future could very well have prompted Atlanta to make the move for Olson. The NL East continues to change with the New York Mets reloading as a credible threat to the Braves’ throne. This offseason alone, they raided the Athletics for center fielder Starling Marte, outfielder Mark Canha, and starting pitcher Chris Bassitt while also bringing on Max Scherzer and Eduardo Escobar.
For Oakland, their rebuild receives a major shot in the arm with the bevy of young talent they just acquired.
Pache was the Braves’ No. 1 prospect, per MLB.com, and is expected to see the majors this season. Langeliers wasn’t too far behind as the team’s No. 2 ranked prospect where he could start at Triple-A, but should also see the big leagues too at some point this season. Cusick and Estes, both in single-A ball, were ranked sixth and 14th respectively in Atlanta’s system.