There’s one big fish on the trade market that everyone seems to want the Milwaukee Brewers to pursue, and that’s Oakland A’s first baseman Matt Olson.
The first base position has been a revolving door in Milwaukee for the past decade. In 2021, offensive production there was extremely poor. Keston Hiura‘s struggles combined with the limited ceilings of Rowdy Tellez and Daniel Vogelbach has led to first base being a major issue once again this offseason.
Vogelbach is now out of the picture, and it’s just Tellez and Hiura that remain. The potential upside of Hiura if he finds his swing again is high, which means that making a major move at first base isn’t completely necessary quite yet. David Stearns and Matt Arnold could simply stand pat at first base and see how Hiura and Tellez play it out in the first half of the season. If they struggle again, they can trade for someone in July.
With that being said, the biggest and best possible upgrade they’re likely to find could be moved this offseason, once the lockout ends. The Oakland A’s are preparing to pull back payroll and sell off their valuable assets. Their first baseman, Matt Olson, is one of their most valuable. An All Star this year and 8th place finisher in the AL MVP vote, Olson also has a few Gold Gloves to his name and finished the 2021 season with a .271 average, 39 homers, and 111 RBIs.
Does Athletics first baseman Matt Olson make sense as a trade target for the Brewers?
Projected to earn $12MM in his penultimate year of arbitration, Olson has become pretty expensive for the low-budget A’s. The Brewers, however, might have enough flexibility to bring him in and pay him for at least the next two seasons until he reaches free agency.
The Brewers can’t go to the upper echelon of payrolls in baseball, but they’re better off than Oakland and Mark Attanasio has proven he’s willing to extend payroll for a team the front office thinks is a winner.
Milwaukee’s window to win a title is likely the next two seasons. Getting Olson to lock down first base and provide his 35-40 homers and 100+ RBIs each of the next two years would be a huge boost to an offense that badly needs one.
However, acquiring that kind of player is costly. Oakland isn’t going to move him for just anything, and the Brewers will likely have to give up quite a bit. For a franchise that spent years with one of the worst farm systems in baseball that is just now getting back to respectable levels of depth and quality, is trading away some of those big prospects something they want to do?
That’s something only Stearns and Arnold know and the rest of us will just have to find out. If they deem the move worth it and that it can get them that much closer to their ultimate goal of a World Series title, then they definitely could.
But this trade would definitely be costly. One the Brewers best prospects is going to have to be included in this trade. The one that might be most available is Brice Turang.
With Willy Adames now entrenched at shortstop in Milwaukee, Turang is kind of blocked at the big league level. Oakland has shortstop prospect Nick Allen that is just about ready, but Allen’s defense is his calling card and his bat lags behind. Turang, meanwhile, is a far superior hitter and a better all around player.
There would have to be more included than just Turang for Olson, but that’s where this conversation likely starts. Would the Brewers have to include one of their top pitching prospects in either Aaron Ashby or Ethan Small? Is Keston Hiura on the table as a trade piece in this hypothetical deal? These are possibilities.
Adding Olson would be a big splash and would most likely be the final addition on offense for the offseason if it were to happen. It would be costly. Paying such a high price could backfire, but if they win a World Series, does anything else really matter?
Could this happen once the lockout ends? Maybe. It all depends on what Oakland is asking for, what the Brewers are willing to pay, and whether or not they believe Keston Hiura can bounce back in 2022.
Don’t count the Brewers out from the Olson hunt completely because Stearns makes unexpected moves out of nowhere a lot, but also don’t get your hopes up that he’s going to end up in a Brewers uniform.