As the Oakland Athletics approach their first “step-back” in five years, All-Star first baseman Matt Olson is finally available on the trade market. With Ty France, Mitch Haniger, and (hopefully) Kyle Lewis slated to hit in the middle of Seattle’s batting order next year as a right-handed trio, a hole remains for a lefty to drive in runs against the plethora of right-handed pitchers existing in MLB; I believe Olson can be the answer.
According to Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times, Mariners President of Baseball Operations Jerry Dipoto is eager to engage in trade talks with the newly rebuilding Athletics:
Upon yesterday’s news that Evan White will begin seeing reps in the outfield starting this offseason, the Mariners’ future at first base is uncertain; France had a great year at first in 2021, but his infield versatility could lead him to third or second base for the long term.
Olson, 27, is a consistent Gold Glove candidate, will be near the top of the list in AL MVP voting this season, and has two years remaining on his contract. He’s projected to make $12 million this offseason, then has one more year of arbitration eligibility before hitting free agency in 2024. Long story short – he has a ton of value.
So, here’s my noble attempt at concocting a trade to usurp Matt Olson from Oakland and get him settled in the Pacific Northwest:
The Rationale for the Mariners
Jerry Dipoto has already stated that none of the likes of Jarred Kelenic, Julio Rodriguez, Noelvi Marte, and George Kirby will be traded this offseason, as they are all a major part of Seattle’s plans for long-term success. However, anyone from Emerson Hancock and down in the Mariners’ #2 ranked prospect system should be fair game, as long as it helps the Mariners beyond just 2022.
Matt Olson would be a bona fide superstar on a young Mariners team, and his playoff experience, Gold Glove-caliber defense, and left-handed power would make the Mariners immediately much, much better.
As for Sean Manaea – consider him a 1-year, $10.2 million free agent signing. Manaea, 29, has a career 50-41 record, 3.86 ERA, and 1.204 WHIP, and is coming off of a 2021 season where he started a career-high 32 games and posted a 3.91 ERA. If he was to perform well in Seattle in 2022 and positively engage with the exciting atmosphere surrounding the Mariners, there could be mutual interest in an extension.
The Rationale for the Athletics
This offseason, the Athletics are expected to lose veterans Mark Canha, Starling Marte, Jed Lowrie, Josh Harrison, and Yan Gomes to free agency, while Olson and Matt Chapman are projected to be traded while their value is enormous. Manaea and fellow top pitcher Chris Bassitt are also expected to be traded, as they each only have one year remaining on their contracts. After trading away several top prospects at the trade deadline this year, the A’s need to rebuild their farm.
Emerson Hancock is the high-level prospect that would make this deal possible. The Mariners’ 1st-round pick in 2020, Hancock has the talent and pitching arsenal to develop into a frontline starter. He was shut down in the middle of his 2021 minor league season due to injury concerns, so his road to the majors could take a bit longer than expected, but he’s still an incredibly valuable prospect.
Along with Hancock, Connor Phillips and Sam Carlson would add much-needed future depth to a long-term Athletics pitching core that features A.J. Puk, Frankie Montas, Cole Irvin, and Paul Blackburn. Phillips, Seattle’s #8 prospect, is a few years away from the majors, but his 60-grade fastball has the potential to be a dominant pitch at the big-league level.
With the departure of Olson, there would be a gaping hole at first base in Oakland, and I think they’d be intrigued to take a flyer on the aforementioned Evan White. White has struggled at the plate in the majors so far, but the former 1st-round pick has plenty of time to develop, and he’s already earned a Gold Glove in his young career. He’s on a highly team friendly contract through 2025 (with affordable club options through 2028), so the notoriously stingy A’s could find significant value in White.
What do you think, Mariners fans – would you jump at this opportunity? Or should we continue to stash our prospects and give White another chance?