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Atlanta Signs A’s Olson to 8-Year Contract, Likely Ends Freeman’s Tenure

The trade announcement caps months of speculation on Freeman's future.

All-Star first baseman Matt Olson is returning home. The A’s traded him to Atlanta for a set of prospects on Monday. The Lilburn, Ga., native will begin playing for his hometown team in 2022 after spending the first four seasons of his major league career in Oakland. His arrival likely means Freddie Freeman, Atlanta’s stalwart at first base for the last decade, will sign elsewhere.

The move comes as an unwelcome surprise for the Atlanta faithful who hoped Freeman would finish his career with their team; but should Freeman move on, Olson is a worthy replacement at first. The 27-year-old slashed .271/.371/.540 in 2021 with 39 HR and 111 RBI in 156 games. He also brings an elite defensive game with two Gold Gloves to show for it.

Following the high of Atlanta’s World Series victory, it seemed a given they would bring back their 2020 NL MVP winner. That certainty faded as the winter drew on and questions arose about GM Alex Anthopoulos’ willingness to extend a long-term contract to a 32-year-old first baseman.

Prior to January, Olson’s name was more frequently associated with the Yankees. However, as negotiations dragged on, reports emerged that Atlanta was at least discussing the possibility of trading for the A’s star. In the press conference announcing the trade on Monday, Anthopoulos indicated that he’d reached his decision on Sunday and went “full steam” after Olson from there.

Atlanta’s GM put his money where his mouth is. By the time Olson arrived for his introductory press conference on Tuesday, he had already been offered and signed an 8-year, $168 million contract.

The Athletics’ return in the trade features four prospects: C Shea Langeliers, OF Cristian Pache, and pitchers Ryan Cusick and Joey Estes. They are ranked second, third, ninth and 14th in Atlanta’s minor-league pipeline, according to Baseball America.

Olson’s departure was announced a day after news broke that SP Chris Bassitt and RP Jake Diekman had also been traded from Oakland.

Bassitt is heading to the Mets in exchange for pitching prospects J.T. Ginn and Adam Oller, while Diekman will be shipped to Boston, pending a physical. The moves make it clear Oakland is committed to a full teardown of a roster that earned a playoff berth in three of the past four seasons amidst uncertainty over the franchise’s future.

However, the next steps most fans will concern themselves with over the coming days are Freeman’s. Now that Atlanta has moved on, the top suitors for Freeman seem to be the Dodgers and Blue Jays. The implementation of the universal DH theoretically leaves the door open for both Freeman and Olson to play in Atlanta, but that route seems exceedingly unlikely with Olson’s contract announcement.

Wherever he ends up, Freeman is already enshrined as a legend in Atlanta. Fans should be excited for the Matt Olson highlight reels to come, and take comfort in the knowledge that their hero is parting only after he brought the Commissioner’s Trophy to Truist Park.

 

Image credit: Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire

Colin Fong

Colin lived near Cooperstown and collected signatures from Hall of Famers for his Dad's collection every summer as a kid. He thought it was super boring at the time, but thinks it's incredibly cool now. He's an A's fan and loves writing about the beautiful, absurd, infuriating, and inspiring world of baseball.

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