MLB Trade Rumors: Latest on Matt Olson and Josh Hader Entering 2021 Free Agency

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistNovember 22, 2021

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 25: Matt Olson #28 of the Oakland Athletics at bat 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 bulk of the MLB offseason buzz revolves around free agency, but that's not the only path teams can take to getting an impact addition.

The trade market has options too, and the ones generating some early rumbling are full-fledged difference-makers.

One slugged 39 homers this season. The other tallied 102 strikeouts in only 58.2 innings.

If either changes uniforms, it'd be the kind of swap that the entire baseball world feels.

Let's dissect the discussions.


Oakland A's Set Astronomic Asking Price for Matt Olson

The Athletics are on the cusp of another teardown, and in order for this to be an eventual success, they'll need to maximize their return on any players they ship out.

They're reportedly looking to do just that with big-hitting first baseman Matt Olson.

MLB Network's Jon Heyman reported the A's are "shooting for the moon" in Olson trade talks. As Heyman noted, they are well within their rights to do it.

Olson was awesome this season. His 39 long balls, 111 RBI and 101 runs scored were all career highs. He was an All-Star for the first time and a top-10 finisher in AL MVP voting. While he missed collecting the third Gold Glove of his career, he did pace AL first baseman in defensive runs saved, per FanGraphs.

This is where it's worth noting Olson is only 27 years old and has another two seasons between him in free agency. He can be an organizational centerpiece.

His talent should tantalize on the trade market, but Oakland's return in a deal could hinge on free-agency happenings. If teams who miss out on Freddie Freeman and Anthony Rizzo don't want to dip into lower tiers, they could feel comfortable paying a heavy premium for Olson.


Phillies Set Sights on Josh Hader

This past season, the Phillies had both the NL MVP (Bryce Harper) and the NL Cy Young runner-up (Zack Wheeler).

They also had a negative scoring differential and extended their playoff drought to 10 seasons.

Clearly, there are several issues with this club, but shoring up the closer spot is a priority, per Heyman. Their ambitious wish list starts with Milwaukee Brewers star Josh Hader and includes Craig Kimbrel and Kenley Jansen.

Any one would be a big upgrade, but Hader is a tier above the others (and maybe a tier above every other reliever in the game). Through five MLB seasons, he has a 2.26 ERA, a 0.854 WHIP and a whopping 15.4 strikeouts per nine innings. In 2021, he pitched to a career-best 1.23 ERA and allowed just 25 hits in 58.2 innings.

Of course, all of that is both why the Phillies want him and why he'll be hard to get. It would "require a haul" to pluck him out of Milwaukee, per Heyman, and Philadelphia might not have the trade chips to get it done. When B/R's Joel Reuter ranked every farm system after the 2021 draft, the Phillies landed just 27th.

It's possible Philly throws the kitchen sink at a Hader deal, but with other holes to fill in the outfield and the starting rotation, the Phillies might have to go with a cheaper option than Hader at closer.