The Atlanta Braves, the defending World Series champions, made a blockbuster trade on Monday, acquiring first baseman Matt Olson from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for four prospects: outfielder Cristian Pache, catcher Shea Langeliers, and right-handers Ryan Cusick and Joey Estes. By acquiring Olson — whom the Braves signed to an eight-year extension the day after the deal — the Braves will set off a domino effect across baseball. Now Freddie Freeman, who seemed like a sure bet to return to Atlanta entering the offseason, can find a new home through free agency.
Where he lands could very well dictate the fates of fellow free agent Anthony Rizzo and New York Yankees first baseman Luke Voit. Freeman’s signing may also provide clarity on Carlos Correa’s market.
For all the attention placed on the Braves’ side of things, the Olson trade marks the continuation of the Athletics’ teardown. Oakland sent right-hander Chris Bassitt to the New York Mets over the weekend, and is expected to ship out third baseman Matt Chapman and starters Frankie Montas and Sean Manaea over the coming days.
We are nothing if not the judgemental type, so we’ve decided to honor this trade’s significance by handing out grades that may or may not look stupid in a few years’ time. First, let’s rehash the specifics of the deal:
- OF Cristian Pache
- C Shea Langeliers
- RHP Ryan Cusick
- RHP Joey Estes
Now, onto the gasbaggery.
Braves grade: A
General managers have tough jobs. You have to juggle dozens of people, egos, and contracts, be it in your office, in your clubhouse, or on your farm. You have to deal with your owner and your manager, and you have to be able to make it so that both are satisfied despite their at-times clashing priorities. You have to make decisions that pit emotion against logic. You have to do all of that with the knowledge that you are always, always going to be scrutinized.
Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos was in an unusual predicament entering this offseason. His team just won an unlikely championship in a way — using role players acquired from other teams at the deadline — that earned him extra heapings of credit and the benefit of the narrative doubt. Anthopoulos gave his players a chance, people said. He believed in them. Sometimes that’s all it takes. It wasn’t rational, what he did at the deadline; not in the way that word tends to be used in this league these days. The odds were consistently against the Braves. Going for it on any level was not a …….