MLB Trade Rumors: Matt Olson Deal Discussed by Braves, A's Prior to Lockout

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 24, 2022

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 25: Matt Olson #28 of the Oakland Athletics looks on between innings against the Houston Astros at RingCentral Coliseum on September 25, 2021 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

The Atlanta Braves reportedly "discussed" a trade with the Oakland Athletics for first baseman Matt Olson before the lockout, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.

Such a deal would ostensibly be an insurance plan in the event superstar first baseman Freddie Freeman departs in free agency once the lockout ends.

Priority No. 1 in Atlanta should be re-signing Freeman once the lockout ends. The 2020 MVP hit .300 with 31 homers, 83 RBI, 120 runs and a .896 OPS in 2021, helping lead the Braves to a World Series title. 

The 32-year-old is a five-time All-Star and one-time Gold Glove Award winner and is firmly in his prime. Locking him up to a long-term deal and allowing him to finish his career in Atlanta makes the most sense for the Braves. 

But if those eventual negotiations break down, Olson would be a logical replacement. The 27-year-old hit .271 with 39 homers, 111 RBI, 101 runs and a .911 OPS in 2021, exceeding 30 homers for the second time in his career and hitting at least 20 dingers for the fourth time. 

In many ways, the 2021 All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner is a younger version of Freeman. Whereas the latter would only cost the Braves a major payday to keep, however, Olson is going to cost them a number of prospects and will eventually require a lucrative long-term deal with two years of arbitration remaining. 

As Rosenthal wrote: "Wouldn’t it make more sense to give Freeman say, six years, $165 million, covering his age 32 to 37 seasons, with no loss of prospects? Or even seven years, $180 million if the Braves wish to lower his average annual value?"

And losing Freeman would also remove a fan favorite who was drafted by the team and has spent his entire career in Atlanta. Even if he was replaced with a player of Olson's talent level, losing Freeman wouldn't be a popular move in the city. 

It's all moot until the lockout ends. But the Braves will find themselves in an interesting position once free agency is able to resume. If Freeman walks, Atlanta very well could be one of the teams that jumps into the Olson bidding war.