1:20 pm: The athletics team announced Olson’s trade with the Braves in exchange for Patch, the Langlers, Estes and Cusick. The deal is official.
1:09 pm: Braves and A agree to a deal that sends their first baseman Matt Olson From Oakland to Atlanta, according to ESPN’s Jeff Bassan (Via Twitter). The highly anticipated blockbuster appears to be a harbinger of the departure of the Braves franchise icon Freddy Freeman, although no official decision from Freeman has been reported or made public. But MLB.com’s Mark Bowman Tweets It is possible that Freeman is heading elsewhere and that “there was never a sense that the brave made such a big push”.
The acquisition of Olson will be bittersweet for many Braves fans. While Olson is a key man of the elite with Atlanta origins, it has long been difficult to understand Freeman, the 2020 National League Player of the Year, and eventually step up and sign with a new team. Freeman was a local star in every sense of the word, going from No. 78 overall in 2007 to five-time All-Star, Major League Player, and World Series Champion. He’s spent the past 12 seasons in Atlanta, thanks in large part to a $135 million eight-year contract extension that kept him in Braves equipment long after his judging years. Freeman has become synonymous with the Braves, but now it seems almost certain that this is a change of guard.
In terms of Freeman surrogates, it’s hard to dream of a better option than the Atlanta-born Olson. Set to turn 28 later this month, Olson has been a two-time Gold Glover at first base and has just wrapped up a career year that earned him his first All-Star nod. Over the past three years, Olson has cemented himself as one of the strongest threats in the game, hitting 89 home runs and 65 hits while playing his home games at the Cavern Coliseum. Last season, Olson ditched the “vulnerable” tag when he cut his strike rate from 27.5% in 2019-20 all the way to 16.8%. He did so while maintaining an excellent walk rate of 13.1% and turning into the best all-round season of his career: .271/.371/.540 with 39 home runs.
The Braves will control Olson for at least the next two seasons, as he currently sits for over four years of Major League service time. MLBTR contributor Matt Schwartz Ventures Of course, the Braves can look forward to signing Olson on a long-term deal that will keep him with his hometown club for much longer than that. That lasted two years of control. Atlanta is said to have held off on holding on for six years or more on a potential extension of Freeman, but Olson is four and a half years younger than Freeman, which could ease concerns about an eventual pullback in the later stages of a long-term deal.
More is coming.