The expectation is that the world champion Atlanta Braves will re-up with free agent and franchise first baseman Freddie Freeman at some point before the start of the 2022 MLB season. No doubt, though, the Braves have made contingency plans for the possibility that the five-time All-Star and Braves lifer winds up signing elsewhere after baseball’s ongoing owner-imposed lockout ends.
“For the Braves, the pre-emptive strike would be a trade for Athletics first baseman Matt Olson, a move that, according to sources, they discussed with the A’s before the start of the lockout. The conversations cannot be dismissed as mere due diligence.”
The A’s, never exactly profligate spenders under owner John Fisher, are undertaking a sell-off, likely to appear more desperate for a publicly funded stadium in Oakland or Las Vegas. As part of that sell-off, a trade of Olson is a real possibility. No doubt, he has wide appeal on the market. The 27-year-old boasts an impressive 134 OPS+ across parts of six major-league seasons. He’s also coming off a 2021 campaign in which he tallied 39 home runs in 156 games. Like Freeman, he’s a rich source of left-handed power, and he’s also a plus fielder at first base. Perhaps adding to his appeal for the Braves is that Olson is a Georgia native.
Given Olson’s on-field value and the fact that he’s not eligible for free agency until after the 2023 season, the price in trade will be steep. That’s the case even after you account for the fact that Olson in his second year of arbitration eligibility is in for a hefty raise over his $5 million salary for 2021. The Braves, though, may be willing to meet the ask if they determine re-signing Freeman isn’t the path they wish to take.
To repeat, the expectation is that Freeman comes back to Atlanta, but don’t be surprised if GM Alex Anthopoulos moves boldly to replace Freeman if they’re not able to reach an agreement. A trade for Olson would certainly qualify as bold.