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New Cubs 1B? Why They Should Target Olson, Not Rizzo

In need of a first baseman and desiring financial flexibility, the Cubs should explore a trade for Matt Olson if the A’s make him available this winter.

Matt Olson Cubs Trade
Photo: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

MLB offseason rumors are already beginning to heat up. According to a report from SNY out of New York, Oakland Athletics’ first baseman Matt Olson may be on the trade block. The report originates from a New York Yankees offseason targets perspective, but we’re here to discuss another team exploring Olson’s services.

In the report, Andy Martino indicates that Olson could be on the move.

Andy Martino of SNY.tv reports that Matt Olson “is one of several players” on the Athletics “who will likely be on the move.”

Martino writes that “multiple league executives in touch with the A’s say that another reset is coming from the franchise.” Olson — who posted a .911 OPS and hit 39 home runs in 2021 — would seem to be the team’s biggest trade chip. The 27-year-old made $5 million this season and is under team control through 2023. Martino mentions the Yankees as a potential landing spot for Olson, and he would certainly be an excellent fit as a left-handed bat with that short porch in right field. There would be numerous suitors if Olson is indeed shopped, however.

Excerpt via nbcsportsedge.com

As mentioned, the original report is from a New York Yankees viewpoint. Let’s switch it up and insert the Cubs in place of the Bronx Bombers.

The Player

Matt Olson was the 47th overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft. After the A’s selected him with a compensation pick in the first round, Olson went on to play like a first-round selection early in his career.

Despite an 11-game stint in 2016 with the A’s, Olson truly began his MLB career in 2017. In only 59 games that season, the first baseman slashed .259/.352/.651 with 24 (!!) home runs and 45 RBIs. Although his numbers dipped when stretched over 162 games in 2018, the Georgia native has improved every year as a full-time big-leaguer.

Olson lit up the 2021 season with his best numbers yet. Over 156 games, he slashed .271/.371/.540 with 39 home runs and 111 RBIs. After a season like that, he’s going to be a hot commodity on the market if Oakland makes him available.

The Fit

During the 2021 season, the Chicago Cubs and their loyal fans had to say goodbye to the team’s undisputed leader since 2012. Anthony Rizzo was shipped to the New York Yankees for a pair of prospects at the trade deadline. However, his departure led to the sensational story of Frank Schwindel, and Cubs fans fell in love with the 29-year-old first baseman.

If the DH comes to the National League in 2022, Schwindel is a perfect candidate to fill the position regularly. That opens up a need at first base in 2022, and Olson is a perfect candidate for the job. In fact, he’s likely a better option than the beloved Rizzo in 2022 and beyond.

I’m well aware of the love for Rizzo in Chicago. In fact, I myself adore the player and the person. That said, Rizzo had a down 2021 season, even after landing in New York. He has expressed interest in returning to the Yankees, and if they make that move then that is fine. The Cubs can move on to a new regime that includes one of the most under-appreciated first basemen in the league.

Here are the facts. Olson is coming off a season with 39 home runs and add 111 RBIs. In addition, he was better than Anthony Rizzo in just about every statistical category in 2021. Furthermore, Olson (27) is younger than Rizzo (32).

Standard
Rk Name Year Age G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB GDP HBP SH SF IBB OPS+
1Matt Olson202127156673565101153350391114188113.271.371.540.91130517901112153
2Anthony Rizzo202131141576496731232332261625287.248.344.440.7832181523052111
Provided by Stathead.com: View Stathead Tool Used
Generated 11/9/2021.

Olson was the superior player in 2021, and he’s entering his prime. Rizzo, unfortunately, is beyond his prime that made him a staple in Chicago.

The Compensation

This is where this idea is either made or breaks. If the compensation for Olson is reasonable, the Cubs should absolutely consider going after him. At a minimum, a call with the Athletics is a must for Jed Hoyer and the Cubs front office.

After entering the 2021 season with the 22nd ranked farm system in baseball, the Cubs reloaded. One of the most memorable sell-offs in recent history, along with a full minor league season, has allowed the Cubs to restock their farm. With Brennen Davis leading the charge, the Cubs have, at worst, a top-15 farm system in baseball.

What would it take to land Olson? While that question remains open-ended, one certainty is that the Cubs can part with a few prospects. We have seen it time and time again when teams value prospects too much, only for them to not work out. Once upon a time, the Cubs’ prospect core was supposed to become a dynasty. We all saw how that ended throughout the 2021 season.

If the Cubs can get Olson for one top-10 prospect and one or two others outside the top 10, then they absolutely need to consider pulling the trigger. Even if it requires moving a roster player as well, there is little doubt that Olson is an upgrade over just about any player currently on the team or in the system. The Cubs can confidently have a conversation as long as the first name asked for is not Brennen Davis.

Overall

Matt Olson is an incredible player. Although he’s going to be a dream acquisition for the Yankees this offseason, the Cubs are perhaps the better trade partner for the A’s. The Cubs have a reloaded farm system while the Yankees depleted theirs a bit at the 2021 trade deadline. Although still deep, the Yankees don’t have as much as they had before, possibly making the Cubs more attractive to have a conversation with.

While an addition such as Olson may be too much for the Cubs in the now, it’s an idea the team needs to explore. The former first-round pick is only 27 years old, has a strong bat and a great glove, and is under team control for two more seasons. That financial flexibility is exactly what the Cubs are looking for. In addition, the team doesn’t have any MLB-ready prospects at first base. Why not target an established, proven player such as Olson?

Perhaps Olson will be too expensive for the Cubs’ taste this winter. However, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t check in with the A’s. If Olson is truly available, then the Cubs would be crazy to not pick up the phone and inquire about the former All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner. Just imagine Matt Olson hitting bombs onto Sheffield when the wind is blowing out at Wrigley Field. It would be magical.

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Work as an accountant by day. Huge Chicago sports fan. Played college football and only wish I could skate well enough to play hockey. Twitter: @rnldluce Instagram: @rnldluce

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