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How Miami Could Pull off a Matt Olson Trade

Oakland’s first baseman is set to hit free agency following the 2023 season.

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Los Angeles Angels Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Thus far this offseason, the Miami Marlins have made good on their promise to open up the checkbook in pursuit of a postseason berth. They locked staff ace Sandy Alcantara up on a club-friendly 5-year/$56M deal, then committed $53M to outfielder Avisaíl García through 2025. They traded for utility infielder Joey Wendle and catcher Jacob Stallings, both of whom are already in the midst of their arbitration years.

These moves alone at least make the team more interesting to watch on a daily basis, but there’s always room for additional improvements. The time for making those improvements could be months away—Major League Baseball and its respective owners failed to strike an agreement with the players’ union for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, instituting the league’s first work stoppage in decades in the form of a lockout. That doesn’t exclude our minds from pondering and piecing together hypothetical moves.

The tandem of Jesús Aguilar, Lewin Díaz and Garrett Cooper were the main cogs for Miami at first base this season where they collectively posted a 114 wRC+ (13th in MLB). However, Aguilar is coming off season-ending knee surgery and Cooper underwent Tommy John on his non-throwing arm.

Even assuming perfect health, these internal options pale in comparison to Oakland’s Matt Olson.

Since becoming the A’s every first baseman late in the 2017 season, Olson owns a .254/.348/.515 slash line. By OPS+, that puts Olson 35 percent above the league average in that span. Hitting a career-best 39 home runs in 2021, Olson finished with a .911 OPS and 305 total bases. His 153 OPS+ and 5.8 rWAR ranked 2nd and 3rd, respectively, among all first basemen with at least 400 plate appearances.

Beyond the noted offensive prowess, Olson adds value in the field, totaling a position-leading 34 defensive runs saved since 2017.

Financially, Olson is entering his second of three arbitration years. He’s due a pay raise on the $5M he earned in 2021, though that salary will be extremely friendly to his team’s payroll regardless. As Oakland heads toward another teardown, it is no surprise that he is attracting many suitors.

What would constitute a fair trade for the Marlins to acquire Olson’s services?

Athletics get Brian Anderson, Edward Cabrera, Lewin Díaz and Max Meyer; Marlins get Matt Olson
Athletics get Brian Anderson, Edward Cabrera, Lewin Díaz and Max Meyer; Marlins get Matt Olson
Baseball Trade Values

Miami’s trade package here fills several needs for the A’s without depleting the Fish too badly. By median trade value estimates, Oakland would win out in its return on a sale of Olson, but overpaying is often required to get established, high-end players.

The Wendle trade with Tampa Bay may make Brian Anderson less essential to the Marlins than he used to be. His upside is still such that he could help mask the loss of Olson, and more directly, fill the shoes of Matt Chapman at the hot corner if he’s shipped away in a separate deal.

Díaz is seen as the projected starter at first for the Fish in 2022. It isn’t hyperbole to call his defense “Gold Glove-caliber” so early into his career. His 9 defensive runs saved, albeit in only 258 23 innings, were enough to tie St. Louis first baseman Paul Goldschmidt for the most in the National League. Uncertainty regarding whether or not the bat will play up explains why he’d be on the table for a scenario like this.

Lewin Diaz #68 of the Miami Marlins hits a RBI single during the fourth inning against the Washington Nationals at loanDepot park Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Max Meyer, the third overall pick out of the University of Minnesota in 2020, has made his transition to pro ball look almost seamless. He posted a 2.27 ERA in 111 innings between AA and AAA. Meyer is sure to see big league action in 2022.

Edward Cabrera, like Meyer, is universally rated among the best prospects in the Marlins organization. He struggled to locate pitches in his first taste of the Majors. Whether as a starter or a late-inning reliever, he possesses to potential to dominate.

Perhaps a short-term veteran free agent signing would be the appropriate supplementary move for the Marlins to cover the innings that Cabrera and Meyer were previously poised to handle.

What do you think?


Would you trade for Matt Olson at this cost?

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