ESPN reveals the Braves biggest hole left to fill this offseason

Hurston Waldrep Braves hat

ESPN recently dove into the 10 biggest holes left on contending teams. Of course, the Braves were included, and their biggest hole is no secret — first base. Here’s an excerpt from the article (ESPN+ subscription required to view):

Should Braves fans be a little nervous that a deal with Freeman wasn’t signed, sealed and delivered before the lockout? Yes, absolutely. At this point, while many in the baseball industry do expect Freeman to still return to Atlanta, it’s not inevitable. Not with just the Yankees interested, but perhaps also the Dodgers, Blue Jays and others. Keep in mind the only $100 million contracts Liberty Media has ever handed out were extensions to a much younger Freeman and that sweetheart deal with Ronald Acuna Jr. This franchise has shown zero inclination to give out nine-figure deals to older free agents. It also never had to re-sign a face of the franchise.

So, don’t rule out Freeman leaving and the Braves making a blockbuster deal to acquire Olson from the A’s. It’s really the perfect alternative as Olson has essentially become the AL version of Freeman after cutting down on his strikeouts in 2021. Olson actually outhit Freeman in 2021 (153 OPS+ to 133).

David Schoenfield, who wrote this piece for ESPN, hit it right on the head. There’s no debating that first base is the team’s biggest hole. Even if the Braves decide to move on from Freeman, which is a realistic possibility, they would have to find someone in free agency or through a trade to replace him because they have nobody in their farm system who plays first base. More so, without Freeman, the Braves also don’t have a true lefty in their lineup.

Olson is an obvious candidate to turn to. You could make the argument that he could be even better than Freeman moving forward, given he is younger and was actually better offensively last season than Freeman. However, he will cost the Braves a king’s ransom of prospects, and they will only have him under contract for two more seasons. Freeman may be expensive, but at least the Braves will be able to keep their farm system stocked in an attempt to keep their championship window open for as long as possible.

Atlanta also has a significant hole in the outfield with Jorge Soler, Eddie Rosario, and Joc Pederson all unrestricted free agents. However, with Acuna, Duvall, and Ozuna (for now) back next season, it pales in comparison to their need at first base. The Braves have a couple of top prospects in Cristian Pache and Drew Waters that could come up in a pinch if absolutely necessary as well.

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