Sports

Matt Olson signs an 8-year, $168 million contract with the Atlanta Braves that runs through the 2029 season

Matt Olson signs an 8-year, $168 million contract with the Atlanta Braves that runs through the 2029 season
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A general manager’s first call to a newly acquired player is usually brief, a simple welcome. But after obtaining the All-Star first baseman in a deal for the Oakland Athletics’ slugger, Atlanta Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos called Matt Olson on Monday with further news.

Anthopoulos informed Olson that his next call would be to Olson’s agent to begin talks regarding a long-term contract.

Olson signed an eight-year, $168 million contract with the Braves just 24 hours later, capping a chain of events he referred to as “whirlwind.”

The contract, which was revealed on Tuesday, will last until the 2029 season. It also offers a no-buyout $20 million club option for 2030.

“The stars kind of aligned perfectly,” Olson, who grew up in the Atlanta area and supported the Braves, said.

Maybe for the Braves’ management as well, because this decision could help deflect criticism over their handling of the long-term first baseman Freddie Freeman’s contract discussions. When Anthopoulos sealed the deal for Olson, he effectively put an end to Freeman’s chances of returning to Atlanta, where he had spent 15 years and was a fan favourite. Last spring and last season, the Braves’ ownership failed to complete a deal with Freeman, angering many faithful supporters who believed the team was being cheap.

However, Olson’s contract is the richest in team history, surpassing Freeman’s $135 million agreement before the 2014 season, and the 27-year-old slugger is immediately established as a centrepiece for the Braves, alongside Ronald Acuna Jr., Max Fried, and Ozzie Albies, for years to come.

“He is now part of this core,” Anthopoulos said Tuesday. “He wanted to be here.”

Olson and his fiancée bought a house in Atlanta last August, and he joked with her that they’d have to hire someone to pick up the mail. With the Athletics receiving offers for Olson early in the summer, he joked with her that the November wedding would be disrupted by Olson’s agent, BB Abbott.

Before the first full-squad practise on Monday, Oakland general manager David Forst met with Olson and warned him they couldn’t let him out on the field because he might be hurt at a time when a deal seemed close. Anthopoulos called Olson after the Braves gave up a package of prospects for him. He briefed Olson about his plans to make a huge offer.

“I was like, ‘What did you say?'” says the narrator. Olson recalled something.

When Abbott explained the offer to Olson, he hung up and told his family, “What’s there to say no to here?”

He has the opportunity to play for his hometown team. That’s a championship-caliber organisation. For a large sum of money. He and Nicole are currently residing in the Atlanta home they recently purchased.

When other players reach base, Olson gets to converse with them as a first baseman. When asked what he would say to Freeman if that happened again, he said, “I don’t know. … We’ll have to see what’s up there.”

Olson, who won’t be available for free agency until after the 2023 season, will earn $15 million in 2022, $21 million in 2023, and $22 million per season for the rest of the contract. He’s also agreed to give the Atlanta Braves Foundation $1.68 million.

Over the course of six seasons, he has a.252 career average, 142 home runs, and an.859 OPS. Last season, Olson hit 39 home runs and drove in 111 runs while ranking ninth in the AL MVP vote.

It was the tenth $100 million contract reached since the World Series concluded, and the first since Major League Baseball’s 99-day lockout ended last week.

Atlanta was unwilling to make such a long-term commitment to Freeman, who became a free agency after the previous season. Over 12 seasons with Atlanta, Freeman, 32, was the 2020 NL MVP and a five-time All-Star, including as a veteran leader on last year’s championship team.

“Freddie is obviously an amazing player,” Olson said to reporters on Tuesday. “It’s just not going to affect what I come here and do. I’m here to be Matt Olson. That’s all I can really control.”

Topics #$168 million #2029 season #Atlanta Braves #Matt Olson

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