It is not a surprise that the Atlanta Braves would be exploring options at first base. While they are still expected to retain Freddie Freeman, nothing is given at that point. As such, it is not a surprise that the Braves would be looking to other options, including Oakland A’s first baseman Matt Olson.
While there had been speculation about such conversations before, nothing had been confirmed. That is, until Monday, when Ken Rosenthal reported in The Athletic that the Braves had indeed reached out about Olson prior to the lockout.
Atlanta Braves interest in Matt Olson makes sense
The Braves are not the only team to have an interest in Olson. Virtually any team that is in need of a first baseman will be checking in on the asking price if they have not done so already. The question is whether or not those teams have the type of prospects the A’s would be looking for.
That is not a concern with the Braves. Although they may not have the type of prospect that will generate headlines, Atlanta still has a strong farm system and enough pitching on the cusp of the majors that they could get a deal to come together once the lockout ends.
Olson would arguably be an upgrade for the Braves, at least in the short term. Unlike the Braves’ star, Olson is just entering his prime. His breakout 2021 campaign, if sustained, would be an improvement over what Freeman can provide. That is not a knock on Freeman, who may be in the midst of a Hall of Fame career. It is merely that one player still hypothetically has his best years ahead of him while the other is winding down.
The problem is the potential cost going forward. Olson is projected to earn $12 million in arbitration this year, and if he has a similar season to his 2021 campaign, will see another significant increase in salary. While he would still be less expensive for those two years, the Braves could find themselves in a similar situation in the somewhat near future.
The Atlanta Braves have spoken to the Oakland A’s about Matt Olson. He would be a potential upgrade should they move on from Freddie Freeman.