The Braves signed a newly acquired first baseman Matt Olson to an eight-year, $168 million contract that runs through the 2029 season, the team announced today. Atlanta also has a $20 million club option for a ninth season. Olson is represented by Jet Sports.
Atlanta, one of the few organizations to publicly disclose contract terms, further announced that Olson would earn $15 million this season and $21 million in 2023 before being paid an annual rate of $22 million. dollars over the last six seasons of the contract. Olson is also donating $1.68 million to the Atlanta Braves Foundation as part of the deal. It is the third-biggest contract ever signed by a player with between four and five years of service in MLB, behind only Joey Votto and Giancarlo Stanton.
Anthopoulos and his front office wasted no time in solidifying that Olson, with Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies, is now one of the key parts of a team hoping to build on last year’s World Series. “He’s part of that core now,” the president of baseball operations told reporters, adding that he and agent BB Abbott “worked all day and all night” on the extension as soon as the deal for to acquire Olson has been finalized (video link via Bally Sports). The guaranteed portion of Olson’s contract even extends beyond Acuna’s, though the Braves hold club options on Acuna for the 2027 and 2028 seasons. Albies’ contract runs through 2025 at the less and features club options for the 2026 and 2027 seasons.
Olson had been projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn $12 million this coming season, and he was due one final raise in officiating in 2023 before he was ready to enter the open market. He will give up six free agent seasons on the potential contract, likely getting around $138 million or so for those six free agent seasons. The new contract surpasses that of Olson’s predecessor, Freddie Freemanfor the biggest contract in franchise history.
Olson’s $168 million guarantee tops the Braves’ $140 million offer to Freeman, though it’s certainly critical to the Braves and Liberty Media ownership that Olson is 27 (28 later). this month). Freeman is 32 and would have been 38 by the time a six-year contract – his advertised asking price – ended. Olson, meanwhile, is now signed for his 35-year-old season. This age gap and the considerably lower annual value of Olson’s deal were certainly determining factors in the Braves’ comfort level in offering a commitment of this magnitude to Olson, but apparently not at six years on Freeman. .
While Olson and Freeman will now be inextricably linked for the foreseeable future, Olson made it clear yesterday that he had no intention of comparing himself to Freeman, whom he called “player from hell” (Twitter link, with video, by Matt Kawahara of the San Francisco Chronicle). “I’m just going to go out there and do what Matt Olson is doing,” he added.
That’s good news for Braves fans, because there’s little Olson doesn’t do well. The left-handed hitter hit a career-high 39 home runs in 2021 and won a second Gold Glove Award at first base, which likely won’t be his last. Olson was strikeout-prone earlier in his career, but he reduced his strikeout rate by more than 10 percentage points last season, ending the year at 16.8% — not much higher than his sight seeing rate of 13.1%. As of Opening Day 2019, Olson’s 89 homers are tied with Nelson Cruz for the third-most in MLB, behind only Pete Alonso (106) and Eugene Suarez (95).
With Olson now signed, the Braves’ payroll jumps to $156 million this coming season — the highest total in franchise history. They already have around $84 million on the books in 2023, and through 2026 they’ll have at least $43 million set in stone (likely up to $50 million, assuming Albies remains in good health). health and that his $7 million club option took over this season).
A year ago, a change of guard at first base like this would have seemed unthinkable to Braves fans — and to many, it may still be. The Olson expansion adds even more finality to the end of the Freddie Freeman era in Atlanta, and as the Braves plan to start a new chapter in franchise history, they will do so with Atlanta-born Olson. who occupies the first base and anchors the heart. order alongside Acuna and Albies.