Atlanta Braves first baseman Matt Olson has struggled of late, making some fans long for the days of the stable Freddie Freeman era.
Atlanta let Freeman walk this winter, in part because they didn’t want to give him a six-year contract that ran into his late 30’s. It was a respectable stunt by a front office that has proven more risk-averse in recent seasons.
It paid off in the form of a World Series championship just last year. To replace Freeman, the Braves traded for Matt Olson, previously of the Oakland Athletics, and gave him a contract extension. He’ll be in Atlanta for the next eight years.
Olson hit near-.300 for his first 26 games as a Brave, and had an OPS of .909. His last 25 have been a reversal of fortune, as he was 9-for-54 (.167) with five doubles, one home run, five RBIs, 11 walks, 15 Ks and a .623 OPS before today’s game, per David O’Brien of The Athletic.
Matt Olson struggles: Should Braves regret getting rid of Freddie Freeman?
Freeman, meanwhile, has gotten off to a fast start with his new team, the Los Angeles Dodgers. In his first 39 games as a Dodger, Freeman is slashing .311/.402/.480 with a .882 OPS and 150 OPS+. Those numbers don’t grow on trees.
That being said, it’s far too early for the Braves to have buyer’s remorse on Olson. Yes, they traded away a number of top prospects, including Cristian Pache. But trading for Olson was playing the long game.
Even should Freeman have a better overall season than Olson this year — and even next — Atlanta is banking on Olson eventually surpassing his predecessor at some point over the course of that eight-year contract.
Given their age disparity and Olson’s ability at the plate and in the field, that’s where the smart money is at. Don’t doubt Alex Anthopoulos just yet.