Braves are getting better

Photo by Blake Israel

The Braves have gotten better this offseason.

The Atlanta Braves have been struggling to come to terms with losing their superstar Freddie Freeman and it seems unlikely at this point that he is going to resign with them. The Braves, whether they wanted to or not, probably just made the best decision they could have made when it comes to their first basemen of the future.

The Braves just traded prospects Christian Pache, Shea Langliers, Ryan Cusick and Joey Estes for the Oakland A’s star first baseman Matt Olson.

Only one of the four prospects ever had a larger role for the Braves and none of them were a major factor during last season’s World Series title run.

Although there is a lot of nostalgia surrounding Freeman in Atlanta, Olson will probably be an upgrade to the star-studded Braves lineup.

On Monday, March 14 the Braves completed the trade with the A’s and on March 15 the Braves ensured a future for Olson on their team by signing him to an 8-year contract worth $168 million.

In comparison, the Braves are rumored to have offered Freeman $135 million for a five year contract which seems to not be enough to satisfy him. Looking for over thirty million a year, you would expect Freeman to significantly outperform Olson who will be making almost 10 million less per year.

In 2021, Freeman amassed 31 home runs, 27 extra base hits and 83 RBIs while batting .300 on the season. Olson, on the other hand, hit 39 home runs, 35 extra base hits and drove in 111 RBIs. Although Olsen was on the base less than Freeman with his .271 batting average, he was able to outperform Freeman in many of the major batting categories. The lower batting average may be a concern for Braves fans but .271 is still a very respectable number and the added benefit of his more explosive offense should be more than enough to compensate for the loss of Freeman.

Defensively, Freeman is one of the best to ever do it at the first base position and it could be difficult to fill his spot assuming he does not get resigned. But, Olson is no slouch either defensively. Olson has already won two Gold Glove awards and he has only been a starter in the MLB for about four full seasons. Considering he is still a younger player, has already won the prestigious defensive award twice, and has an overall career fielding percentage equal to Freeman’s, most fans will not notice any difference in defensive prowess from the first baseman of the Braves in the future.

Olson is also an Atlanta area native and grew up a Braves fan whereas Freeman is looking to move closer to his childhood hometown of Villa Park, California.

Not seeing Freeman in the number five Braves uniform will definitely be unusual for the next few years but at least the Braves are not downgrading at first base. Considering Olson is five years younger than Freeman and has the skill set and statistics to replace him, Braves fans should be excited about their new first baseman because he is providing similar production at a cheaper price, and more importantly, wants to be an Atlanta Brave.

Freddie Freeman will be missed but the Matt Olson era in Atlanta has officially begun.