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Matt Olson Traded to Braves from Athletics amid Freddie Freeman Rumors

Adam WellsMarch 14, 2022

AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

The Atlanta Braves have found their first baseman for the 2022 season after acquiring Matt Olson.

ESPN's Jeff Passan first reported the deal.

The Athletics will receive outfielder Cristian Pache, catcher Shea Langeliers and starting pitchers Ryan Cusick and Joey Estes in the blockbuster deal.

The deal also means superstar first baseman and longtime Brave Freddie Freeman will likely sign elsewhere in free agency. 

Joel Reuter @JoelReuterBR

Freeman to the Dodgers before the day is over? <a href="https://t.co/1FCk3bOJ82">https://t.co/1FCk3bOJ82</a>

After missing the playoffs with an increased payroll last season, the A's appear to have set their sights on a reset this offseason. 

Manager Bob Melvin left the team in a surprise move to take the same job with the San Diego Padres. USA Today's Bob Nightengale reported the Athletics are looking to "slash their payroll to a major-league low $50 million for the 2022 season."

Per Spotrac, Oakland had a $90.9 million payroll in 2021. No player on the team is signed to a guaranteed contract after next season. Stephen Piscotty and Elvis Andrus both have $15 million team options for 2023. 

Olson has two years of team control remaining and is projected to earn approximately $12 million through arbitration this season, per Spotrac. 

The Atlanta native has been one of the best all-around first basemen in the American League since 2017 when he hit 24 homers and slugged .651 in 59 games as a rookie. He won back-to-back Gold Glove Awards in 2018 and 2019. 

Since his first full season in 2018, Olson ranks fourth among all first baseman with 13.2 FanGraphs wins above replacement. He set career highs last season in batting average (.271), on-base percentage (.371), homers (39), RBI (111) and walks (88). 

The Braves' move to acquire Olson comes as the team was waiting for Freeman to decide if he wanted to re-sign or move on in free agency.

Olson has posted better OPS+ totals than Freeman in two of the previous three seasons. He is five years younger and a better defensive player. 

As long as the Braves get Ronald Acuna Jr. back healthy, they have all the pieces necessary to make another postseason run in 2022. Olson is a savvy addition by general manager Alex Anthopoulos. 

The NL East figures to be highly competitive, especially at the top between three teams. The New York Mets could have the best one-two punch at the top of their starting rotation with Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom. The Philadelphia Phillies should be better if Aaron Nola gets back on track after a disappointing 2021. 

The Braves are the team to beat in the division after winning the World Series, but their path to a fifth consecutive NL East title will be difficult. 

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