This offseason was anything but normal. With the lockout, any and all deals with players and clubs got put on pause. This made things challenging. But now with the lockout over, and Spring Training in full swing, the Atlanta Braves have made some deals, trades, and significant changes.
The most significant of these deals came on March 14th, when the Braves traded four of their top prospects for first baseman, Matt Olson. This deal with the Oakland Athletics brought a close to the Freddie Freeman era with Atlanta. It came with a pretty cost, too. The four minor league prospects that the Braves organization traded were: Christian Pache, outfielder and the Braves number one prospect; Shea Langeliers, catcher and Braves number two prospect; Joey Estes, pitcher and Braves number thirteen prospect; and Ryan Cusick, pitcher and 24th pick out of the 2021 draft. All in all, it was a costly deal for the Braves, but they got their first baseman.
And, the very next day, March 15th, the Braves signed Matt Olson to an eight-year $168 million contract through the 2029 season, with a $20 million option for 2030. Like it or not Braves country, Matt Olson is going to be our first baseman for the foreseeable future. He has very good career stats and had an impressive 2021 season. Last year, his average was .271, he hit 39 home runs, and had 111 RBI’s with Oakland. He also made just six errors. Let’s hope he will have the same kind of season with the Braves.
The Braves also signed right-handed pitcher Collin McHugh to a two-year $10 million deal on March 15th. This signing will help bolster the already impressive Atlanta bullpen.
On March 16th, the Braves signed Eddie Rosario to a two-year $18 million deal with a 2024 option. Rosario played a huge role for Atlanta last postseason. He was NLCS MVP and had some huge hits. Not to mention, he made some crazy impressive plays…wether he meant to or not! Eddie will most likely play left-field for Atlanta, and with more practice, I think he could be a really good outfielder. It will just take time for him to get more comfortable out there. It will also be nice to have Rosario’s bat back in the lineup. It is safe to say that last season the baseball was FLYING off his bat. The teams that the Braves were facing couldn’t seem to get him out! This deal brings added depth and energy to the Atlanta Braves’ lineup, and makes them even stronger.
Also on March 16th, the Braves signed relief pitcher Tyler Thornburg to a one-year, $900,000 deal. Thornburg did not play in 2021 due to Tommy John surgery. With this deal from the Braves, it is safe to say he will try and prove that he can still be a good pitcher like he once was before surgery. His best season came six years ago in 2016 with the Milwaukee Brewers. He is 33 years old, and has a lot to prove this season with Atlanta.
And finally, On March 18th, the Braves signed relief pitcher Kenley Jansen to a one-year $16 million deal. In all honesty, this deal surprised me. Don’t get me wrong – Kenley Jansen is a very good closer. He came through time and time again for the L.A. Dodgers. But, before the Braves came to this deal with him, they were in talks with World Series MVP, Jorge Soler. That is what made the Jansen deal more surprising. Instead of signing Kenley Jansen, they could’ve signed Soler and made him their DH. But now Soler is now a Miami Marlin. All this to say, the signing of Kenley Jansen makes the Atlanta bullpen even deeper and more powerful than before.
It is safe to say that there are quite a few new faces for the Atlanta Braves this year. But the crazy thing is that Matt Olson, Collin McHugh, and Tyler Thornburg all grew up in Georgia. They were also all Braves fans growing up, so this is most likely a treat for them to be able to play for their hometown team. Eddie Rosario quickly became a fan-favorite last season, so I’m sure he is happy to be back. And for Kenley Jansen, he is joining an amazing team with an amazing fan-base. Let’s just hope all these men will be as good as their careers say they can be, and that we know they are!