For the record, in no way shape or form do I think the Yankees will pull this off. That being said, Olson is one hell of a player that fills so many of this team’s gaps and is worth whatever prospect capital the A’s want. At 27, he’s younger than any option we currently have at the position. He’s in arbitration until he’s 30. He’s one of the league’s premier defensive first basemen.
Matt Olson checks every box that a high-dollar, splashy, big-market team should want. Which begs the question, why would the A’s trade him?
Well, it’s not totally unprecedented. Look at the A’s recent history – trading Donaldson, Cespedes, Gray, and Carlos Gonzalez all either in their prime or in good years. They made a movie out of it for God’s sake! Hats off to Billy Beane, he trades these players and makes it work, but nobody is untouchable as an Oakland Athletic.
A true lefty bat
No offense to Joey Gallo, but when we said we needed a lefty bat to balance the lineup, we meant a guy that can actually do a little of everything. Listen, I’ve actually defended the Gallo trade – at least the idea of it. A high on-base guy on a team that, at times, feels like they’re going to get shut out every night? Sign me up. Here’s the thing though. In order to be a high on-base guy, you actually have to… wait for it… drumroll please… get on base!
Enough of the Gallo hate, though. Even if Gallo had panned out, Olson is a tremendously better player, and a MUCH better fit. Over his 6 year career, Olson owns a .252/.348/.511 line with a 134 OPS+. Not too shabby for a first baseman, much less one with 2 gold gloves, a 3rd on the way, and who’s just now hitting his prime. As evidenced by last year’s .271/.371/.540 clip, Olson is just now hitting his prime years. In the 4, non-COVID years that he’s played, he’s also averaged almost 32 homeruns a year in Oakland.
Matt Olson keeps raking.
That's No. 19 this year. 💪 pic.twitter.com/6xRqM8ZbyC
— MLB (@MLB) June 18, 2021
Yep, math checks out here. Olson is what we were promised in Gallo – but better.
If you can look me in the eyes and tell me that the recent Yankee teams are even average defensively, then you either are a liar, or don’t watch baseball. Remember the Jay Bruce experiment? No? How about one of the three balls a game that Gleyber spikes into the ground? The point is this: in order to win a World Series, the Yankees must figure out how to play defense. Having a gold glover, see Mr. Anthony Rizzo for reference, makes a massive difference.
It's Matt Olson's birthday!
He has the most Defensive Runs Saved (31) by a 1B since the start of 2018. pic.twitter.com/uU7RJdWwmD
— MLB Stats (@MLBStats) March 29, 2020
Beyond just routine balls to him, the first baseman is able to bail out the rest of the infield, which the Yankees desperately need. Again, look at Rizzo in his brief time here. Luke Voit is at least an average first baseman and Rizzo made him look like a tee-baller.
A good defensive first baseman is not a luxury, it is a necessity.
Age and contract
This will be relatively brief because nobody cares about numbers here.
Olson is 27, has 2 more years of arbitration, taking him into 2024. He’s younger and cheaper than DJ or Rizzo who seem to be the main two options for next year. I know Luke is still on the team but do we really think that he will be back, much less perform well, after what the Yankees did to him in 2021? As sad as it is, I think Luke’s time in the Bronx is coming to an abrupt end very soon.
What would it take?
Here’s the million dollar question. Can the Yankees acquire a top-tier trade target without letting Volpe go? My guess would be probably not. And guess what? That’s okay. The world isn’t going to stop rotating if Volpe gets traded.
Yankees #1 prospect Anthony Volpe hits a home run then gets ejected immediately after touching home plate pic.twitter.com/j3APSvHvKW
— Jomboy Media (@JomboyMedia) September 6, 2021
It would absolutely sting, but as the old saying goes, “You know it’s good deal when both people feel like they got screwed”. Volpe is an absolute stud, and he has the tools to be a star in the big leagues for a long time. He’s 20 years old though. At 20 years old, we thought Gary Sanchez was going to be the next franchise star. At 20 years old, we thought Jorge Mateo was the heir to Jeter.
I’m not saying that Volpe is destined to be a bust. I’m merely suggesting that no prospect, no matter their pedigree, should be untouchable at 20. I would rather take my chances with a proven superstar, Olson, and one of the major free agent shortstops.
Beyond Volpe? Who knows. I’m not going to speculate on specific names because that gets us nowhere. What I do know is that it’s going to take a haul. Billy Beane isn’t going to get fleeced trading an MVP candidate. Whatever that asking price is though, the Yankees should be meeting it.