Braves Trade For Matt Olson Is Good For Nationals

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTMEBER 23: Matt Olson #28 of the Oakland Athletics hits a home run during the game against the Seattle Mariners at RingCentral Coliseum on September 23, 2021 in Oakland, California. The Mariners defeated the Athletics 6-5. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - SEPTMEBER 23: Matt Olson #28 of the Oakland Athletics hits a home run during the game against the Seattle Mariners at RingCentral Coliseum on September 23, 2021 in Oakland, California. The Mariners defeated the Athletics 6-5. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images) /
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After 12 seasons of tormenting the Washington Nationals, Freddie Freeman’s tenure with the Atlanta Braves has come to an end. Instead of keeping their face of the franchise, Atlanta decided to swing a blockbuster trade for A’s superstar first baseman, Matt Olson.

While the Braves could technically pay to keep Freeman, Atlanta’s GM Alex Anthopoulos’s comments made it sound like it was the end of an era.

“This is the hardest decision and transaction I’ve had to make,” Anthopoulos told reporters.

This news comes as a surprise — Freeman is the biggest Braves icon since Chipper Jones and the face of the franchise. After Jones retired in 2012, the Braves entered a rebuild two years later, trading away Melvin Upton Jr., Justin Upton, Craig Kimbrel, and Jason Heyward.

Atlanta chose to build around Freeman and he reward them in kind, leading the Braves to the playoffs seven times, winning five NL East titles and most recently a World Series title.

In 12 seasons in Atlanta, he hit .295, with 271 homers, 941 RBIs, and an OPS of .893. The generational star has been named to five All-Star teams, the All-MLB second team twice, and the All-MLB first team once. He’s also won a Gold Glove, three Silver sluggers, and an MVP award.

Freeman teamed up with Ronald Acuna Jr. to form one of the best duos in all of baseball. Losing the heart and soul of the Braves is a major blow to the reigning World Series champions, but Washington isn’t complaining.

Atlanta’s surprising trade for Matt Olson means the notorious Washington Nationals killer Freddie Freeman is on his way out.

In fact, if anything they are celebrating. Since he made his MLB debut in 2010, Freeman has been a thorn in the Nationals side, always coming through when he’s needed. In 181 games against the Nats, Freeman is slashing .315/.396/.520, with 26 homers, 115 RBIs, and an OPS of .916.

In Freeman’s place is Olson, a one-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glover. Turning 28 at the end of this month, he’s spent the last six years with the A’s slashing .252/.348/.511, with 142 homer, 373 RBIs, and an OPS of .859. He’s coming off of a career year, hitting .271, with 39 homers, 111 homers, and a .911 OPS.

Olson provides top-tier defense, posting 34 DRS and a 22.8 UZR in his career at first compared to Freeman’s 11 DRS and 7.1 UZR. Olson will help anchor the Brave’s offense as they start their World Series defense.

While Olson is an elite player, the Braves gave up four of their top 14 prospects including their top two — Shea Langeliers and Christian Pache. They mortgaged their farm in order to keep their contention window which can work out in Washington’s favor. Olson also received an eight-year extension worth $168 million, with an option for 2030.

The Nationals have entered a full-blown rebuild and are 2-3 years away from contending. But once they finally return to contention, not having to deal with Freeman in a playoff race is a godsend. Olson is a game-changer defensively, but is a step back offensively and not the leader Freeman is. Plus, no one has quite dominated the Nats as Freeman has.

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