Freddie Freeman's time with the Atlanta Braves may be over. The Braves have completed a trade with the Oakland Athletics that sends star first baseman Matt Olson to Atlanta for four prospects, including outfielder Cristian Pache and catcher Shea Langeliers. The trade has been announced and is official.
Here are the full details (and you can find trade grades here):
- 1B Matt Olson
Prior to the lockout it was reported Freeman was seeking a six-year, $180 million contract while the Braves were holding firm at closer to five years and $130 million, which is in line with Paul Goldschmidt's contract with the Cardinals. . The Olson trade creates a path for Freeman to sign with his hometown team.
Olson, 27, had a breakout 2021 season, slugging 39 home runs with a .271/.371/.540 batting line. He cut his strikeout rate drastically and is also a Gold Glove-caliber defender. Olson will remain under team control as an arbitration-eligible player through 2023, so it's a two-year buy for the defending World Series champions as they try to keep their title window open.
It's still possible the Braves could re-sign Freeman -- Freeman and Olson could share first base and DH duties with Marcell Ozuna in the outfield full-time -- though it seems very unlikely. Letting a franchise icon leave is never easy, but from a cold-blooded business perspective, the Braves replaced Freeman with a comparable player who is several years younger and cheaper.
Alex Anthopoulos fought back tears as he discussed the Olson trade, which he said was the toughest decision he’s had to make as a GM, and it was clear he meant the Freddie Freeman aspect of it without saying his name.— David O'Brien (@DOBrienATL) March 14, 2022
For what it's worth, Sportsline says the Braves will be a few wins better with the 27-year-old Olson in 2022 rather than the 32-year-old Freeman:
Braves with Freeman
Braves with Olson
According to Baseball America, the A's netted Atlanta's No. 2 (Langeliers), No. 3 (Pache), No. 9 (Cusick), and No. 14 (Estes) prospects. Langeliers was the team's first-round pick in 2019 and Cusick was their first round pick in 2021. Here's what our R.J. Anderson wrote about Langeliers in January:
Langeliers does have above-average juice, but his bat is likely to play second fiddle to his glove. He has one of the strongest arms in the minors, and he's good enough at the other aspects of defense to profile as an above-average mitt. Langeliers' defensive base makes him a safe bet to carve out a career as at least a backup type, and likely as something more.
Pache has big-league time and has shuttled back and forth between Triple-A and MLB the last few years, and should play regularly for Oakland. He is an outstanding defensive center fielder, one of the best in professional baseball, though his bat has yet to catch up to the glove. Cusick and Estes throw extremely hard and are lower minors prospects who are years away from MLB.
CBS Sports' Fantasy Baseball Today podcast broke down the Olson deal on Monday in an emergency episode. Listen below:
For Oakland, the trade is the latest sign they are tearing down their roster and entering a rebuild. Righty Chris Bassitt was traded to the Mets over the weekend and it's likely third baseman Matt Chapman and starters Sean Manaea and Frankie Montas will be on the move next. Others like Ramón Laureano, Sean Murphy, and Tony Kemp could be traded as well.