Matt Olson finished the 2021 season 19th in MLB in fWAR with a 5.0 and finished 8th in the AL MVP vote with 90 points. This was an increase from his 2019 season where he finished 21st in AL MVP voting.
With Olson arbitration-eligible and also one of the league’s top first basemen, the A’s are in a predicament on what to do with the two-time Gold Glove winner. Do they trade him away and save themselves from a big payday in the near future? Do they shell out the money now and lock down the corner infielder to build for the future. Here’s what I think they should do.
Pay Olson and win now
In my mind, Matt Olson is the rock that holds the A’s together and whatever happens to him is going to dictate the direction the team will take. Olson is estimated to make $12 million next year if he stays which would take up just under 17% of the payroll.
Another estimated 50% of the payroll is taken up by the likes of Sean Manaea, Stephen Piscotty, Matt Chapman and Chris Bassitt. Three of these four players posted fWARs above 3.0 with Piscotty posting a -0.6 due to only playing 72 games and hitting .220.
With that being said, the way the contracts are structured, Olson and Chapman will enter arbitration in 2023, Bassitt and Manaea become free agents in 2023 and Piscotty has a club option that would save $15 million if they decline. If Olson gets paid, the dominoes are likely to follow and hang around to try and win.
The AL West is up for grabs
This offseason has been one of the most hectic in recent history thanks to the new CBA agreement and the AL West has played a major role in that. This tweet from Mark Feinsand says it all. With every team in the AL West making moves except the A’s, the entire division is up for grabs.
This can be taken two ways, the first being that the A’s should let these other teams battle it out for a few years, stock up some assets and try to win when these teams fall apart. The other approach is to take the third-place team they had last year, lock down the pieces that got them there, add a few pieces and compete with everyone else now.
The difference between the Oakland A’s and a wild card spot was 6 games. With the loaded free agent class that still has great pieces available, it is very feasible for the A’s to make some moves to win now.
Main image credit Embed from Getty Images