The Oakland Athletics fan base must hate their team. Year after year, the club pinches pennies and try to build a roster via bargain bin shopping. It’s predicated on value, but so is how the Braves generally operate. Unlike the A’s, Atlanta is capable and willing to pay its players. Hell, Alex Anthopoulos and Liberty Media shelled out over $500 million in contract extensions over the last year or so, the largest being Austin Riley‘s $200+ million deal. While David Forst’s payroll is projected to be a hair over $30 million right now.
While the Braves pay their homegrown talent, the A’s trade them away. Everybody remembers the movie Moneyball. Billy Beane, the longtime A’s GM and Forst’s mentor, instituted a different approach to team building. And for the most part, it was brilliant. No team in Oakland is going to be outspending the likes of New York, Los Angeles, or any other big market. So, they hoard prospects in hopes they pan out before having to hand them contract extensions. Luckily for the Braves, the A’s are very willing to deal their young stars to acquire even younger assets.
In back-to-back offseasons, the Braves have struck a deal to acquire two of their biggest stars, Matt Olson and Sean Murphy, who are now reunited in Atlanta. The two were both drafted by the organization — Olson in the 1st round of the 2012 MLB Draft and Murphy in the 3rd round of 2016. Now, they will likely play the remainder of their primes with a perennial contender, assuming the club extends Murphy.
The two spent three seasons together in Oakland with the major league club from 2019-21. Over that period, Olson grew into an absolute monster, mashing nearly 30 home runs per season with an .876 OPS, winning a Gold Glove and earning All-Star honors for the first time in his career. By the time Murphy got to the big leagues, Matt Olson had already accrued three seasons. Still, in a short period, Murphy has become one of the best catchers in baseball. He’s posted above-average offensive numbers while playing elite defense behind the plate.
The Braves are in win-now mode, so it makes sense to swing these kinds of trades. It undoubtedly made the team better, even if the fan base will sorely miss William Contreras.
Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire