On Monday, the Braves crafted a deal with the Oakland Athletics that sent Matt Olson to Atlanta in exchange for Cristian Pache and prospects Shea Langeliers, Ryan Cusick, and Joey Estes. This trade was one of the many moves that have occurred since the beginning of the weekend, but it stands above the rest because it revealed that the Braves would be turning away from Freddie Freeman.
Olson In, Freeman Out
Freeman, the hottest free agent, remaining on the market, was the centerpiece of Atlanta’s organization for over a decade. It was hard to imagine a world without Freeman rocking a Braves jersey, and it’s one that I do not want to live.
I am joking about the latter half of that statement, but Freeman epitomized Atlanta. The 2020 National League MVP started with the Braves when the team struggled to compete in the National League East.
He capped off his career with the Braves by winning a World Series in 2021. Freeman asked for a reasonable six-year deal before the lockout, but Atlanta did not want to extend their offer past five seasons. This was a point of contention regarding the deal, and it obviously was enough for the Braves to turn their back on Freeman.
It was rumored Atlanta did not even tell Freeman’s representatives the deal was taking place. It’s important to remember baseball is a business, but this was not the way you treat a franchise icon. Freeman should have received exactly what he wanted, considering it followed a World Series season.
When his reasonable asking price is factored into the equation, it’s despicable Atlanta could not give him six years. From a baseball perspective, Olson is a player who will fill in for Freeman. He was likely the third-best first baseman in the game last season behind Freeman and Anthony Rizzo.
His WAR was 5.8 with 39 bombs and 111 RBIs. He made his first All-Star Game last season, adding to his two Gold Glove honors in 2018 and 2019. The one thing Olson cannot replace is Freeman’s role with the team, fans, and the city.
He was undoubtedly the leader of the franchise, and he should have been treated as such in free agency. As I said before, baseball is a business, and this is what happens. Although, it’s very sad to see from a baseball fan’s perspective.
This is not an easy situation for Olson to walk into as well, so I am concerned about his ability to produce in a new situation.
The Landing Spot
I listened to MLB Radio following the news, and I heard a caller say Freeman is still coming back to Atlanta. This is not the case, and it never will be unless Freeman does a swan song to end his career back on the east coast. Freeman will be taking his talents to a new team, and all signs are pointing to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Dodgers have reportedly offered Freeman a contract, but the first baseman has not decided to go to the City of Stars. Yet, with the Olson trade confirmed, it’s only a matter of time for Freeman to ink a deal with Los Angeles.