Contract for the first baseman will be worth $168 million

NORTH PORT, Fla. — When Matt Olson’s agent, B.B. Abbott, gave his client the numbers on the Braves’ contract offer, Olson did a double take. Wait, what did you say?

“The stars kind of aligned perfectly,” Olson, wearing a Braves cap and jersey, said during his introductory press conference at CoolToday Park.

Olson is an Atlanta native. His hometown team wanted to provide him with stability in both the money and location. He and his wife, Nicole, closed on a house inside the perimeter last August and got married in November. They talked over the Braves’ offer, with Abbott’s input.

“What’s to say no to here?” Olson said.

Combined ShapeCaption
Newly acquired All-Star first baseman Matt Olson, who signed an eight-year, $168 million deal that runs through the 2029 season, is all smiles as he is introduced by Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos on Tuesday in North Port, Fla. (Curtis Compton/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Newly acquired All-Star first baseman Matt Olson, who signed an eight-year, $168 million deal that runs through the 2029 season, is all smiles as he is introduced by Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos on Tuesday in North Port, Fla. (Curtis Compton/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Combined ShapeCaption
Newly acquired All-Star first baseman Matt Olson, who signed an eight-year, $168 million deal that runs through the 2029 season, is all smiles as he is introduced by Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos on Tuesday in North Port, Fla. (Curtis Compton/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

A day after the Braves acquired Olson from Oakland, the sides agreed to an eight-year contract worth $168 million, the Braves announced Tuesday. The deal, which runs through the 2029 season, includes a $20 million club option for 2030.

Olson will make $15 million in 2022, $21 million in 2023 and $22 million for each season after that for the remainder of the deal. The Parkview High grad agreed to donate $1.68 million to the Atlanta Braves Foundation.

Olson’s deal is the most lucrative contract in Braves history.

“I still don’t know if it’s sunk in quite yet,” Olson said, “but I’m very honored to throw this jersey on and join a big, young core that has already proven themselves.”

Braves fans may still have mixed emotions about losing Freddie Freeman, a beloved franchise player. But Olson is the best potential replacement.

The Braves are believed to have offered Freeman a five-year, $140 million contract, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. The average annual value would have been $28 million, which is more expensive than Olson’s deal.

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Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos introduces All-Star first baseman Matt Olson on Tuesday in North Port, Fla. (Curtis Compton/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos introduces All-Star first baseman Matt Olson on Tuesday in North Port, Fla. (Curtis Compton/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Combined ShapeCaption
Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos introduces All-Star first baseman Matt Olson on Tuesday in North Port, Fla. (Curtis Compton/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos seems to have done well in this situation. The Braves would have paid Freeman more per year than they will pay Olson, Olson is around 5 years younger and they have Olson for longer than they would have had Freeman. This seemingly provides the Braves with more money and flexibility as they look to address the rest of their needs. They need to fill out their outfield, and they probably could use another starting pitcher.

In 2021, Olson ranked 19th in all of baseball with 5 fWAR. He would’ve led the Braves in that category. He is a slugger who also flashes the leather. He is the all-around first baseman, proficient on both sides, the Braves needed to acquire if they wanted to continue as serious contenders.

Asked about filling Freeman’s shoes, Olson laughed. He said he knew that would come up in his press conference.

“Freddie is obviously an amazing player,” he said. “It’s just not going to affect what I come here and do. I’m here to be Matt Olson.”

After the Braves acquired Olson – a move they made with the hope he would be their first baseman for a long time – Anthopoulos reached out to Olson. He welcomed Olson to Atlanta and told him his next call would be to his agent.

“Freddie is obviously an amazing player. It's just not going to affect what I come here and do. I'm here to be Matt Olson."

- Braves first baseman Matt Olson

The Braves GM then called Abbott and told him: “We will come with a big offer, we will be very aggressive and we’d love to have something done by (Tuesday) at 1 (p.m.) if we can.”

As Olson and Anthopoulos entered a first-floor room inside CoolToday Park for the 1 p.m. introductory press conference, the Braves sent a press release: The team had agreed to a massive contract extension with Olson, who is now like Ronald Acuña Jr., Austin Riley, Ozzie Albies, Dansby Swanson, Max Fried and others.

“He’s now part of this core,” Anthopoulos said of Olson. “He’s one of the group, and knowing that he wanted to be here was important to us.”

Olson grew up a Braves fan. He understands the culture and history, and knows about guys including Chipper Jones and Dale Murphy. He was the kid in the stands rooting for the hometown nine.

And the current club couldn’t be different from his former team: Whereas the A’s are holding a firesale to cut costs, the Braves are trying to repeat as World Series champions. They proved as much with this move, which signifies their commitment to winning now and in the future.

“I know things are clearly a little different in Oakland, from what I saw and know,” Olson said. “I do respect that obviously this organization is going for it and they want to win and they’ll do the measures that it takes to win. Not talking down to Oakland, but I understand they’ve got some financial restrictions and that’s how they go sometimes.

“I’m glad to be in this organization now and be here for a long time.”

On Monday, the day of Oakland’s first official workout of the spring, Athletics general manager David Forst called Olson in and told him he couldn’t let him go out to the field. The GM told the first baseman there might be something going on – wink, wink – and the club didn’t want him tweaking anything.

Olson had been on edge entering spring training because he knew something could happen. Olson said he and Nicole joked that Abbott would stop their wedding as they walked down the aisle to deliver breaking news that Olson had been traded.

“It’s definitely been a whirlwind,” he said, “but I’m happy this happened and that this is the place.”

When Matt and Nicole Olson closed on their house, they joked that they didn’t know who would pick up their mail when they were in Oakland during the season.

They no longer have that problem.

“If I was going somewhere,” Olson said, “this is the place I wanted to go.”

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