By: Robert Bishop
Back again, and the Major League Baseball offseason took little time generating headlines following the end of the lockout, with a blockbuster trade leading to a former MVP changing teams, another former MVP signing a monstrous contract with an unexpected team, and the A’s showing signs of a fire sale.
Firstly, the Atlanta Braves, seemingly out of the market to retain Freddie Freeman, made a deal to acquire Matt Olson, sending four prospects to the Oakland A’s. Olson is coming off a .271/.371/.540 line with a career-high 39 home runs. He takes over the position manned by Freeman for the past decade, joining Ronald Acuna, Austin Riley, and company to give Atlanta one of the NL’s best lineups. Coming off an improbable World Series victory, the Braves are poised to be a championship contender again.
With a return to Atlanta ruled out, Freeman wasted little time finding a new home, joining the star-studded Los Angeles Dodgers via a massive six-year, $162 million deal. It’s an enormous sum for Freeman, who remains an effective hitter but will enter the 2022 season at 32. Signing Freeman is curious given Max Muncy’s place on L.A.’s roster. Still, with Muncy coming off an elbow injury and the Dodgers having proven creative in utilizing its talent, there’s no reason to expect the deal to be a disaster in the short term. However, long-term, the only likely saving the agreement from being a disaster in the final few seasons is L.A.’s infinitely deep pockets.
Another former MVP changing teams is third baseman/outfielder Kris Bryant, who will join the Colorado Rockies on a huge contract. The Rockies, assumed to be in a rebuild following last year’s trade of Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story’s ongoing free agency, instead shocked baseball by signing Bryant to a deal worth $182 million. A few seasons removed from MVP-level play, Bryant has established himself as an All-Star caliber hitter, and he will undoubtedly benefit from the move to playing half his games in Colorado. It’s not necessarily a bad signing for the Rockies, but it is difficult to rationalize it given the state of the rest of the team’s roster.
As a follow up to Oakland’s trading of Matt Olson for a package of prospects, the A’s continued its sell-off by shipping third baseman Matt Chapman to the Toronto Blue Jays. Chapman is coming off a disappointing offensive season. However, his struggles at the plate were likely partly due to recovering from hip surgery. Even with decreased production as a hitter, Chapman remained a defensive wizard at the hot corner. With Chapman poised to join an already loaded roster, Toronto is firmly in the American League East race, if not fighting with the White Sox and Astros for supremacy in the American League. Meanwhile, the Oakland A’s are shaping up to be among the worst teams in baseball.
However, baseball wasn’t the only offseason generating headlines over the past few days. In a blockbuster trade that seemed to graduate from rumor to done deal in minutes, the Green Bay Packers shipped wide receiver Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders. Upon completion, Adams agreed to a five-year contract with the Raiders worth $140 million. It’s an incredible move for the Raiders, reuniting Adams and quarterback Derek Carr, teammates in college. Plus, with news that Adams declined a similarly-structured long-term deal with Green Bay, it is evident the superstar receiver’s first desire was to join the Raiders. The AFC West is loaded.
On the other end of the deal, the Green Bay Packers received a first and second-round pick in the upcoming draft, but even with the increase in draft capital, the team’s receiving corps will take a sizeable step back in 2022. Free-agent Marquez Valdes-Scantling will likely be re-signed, and he’ll join Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, and Amari Rodgers as holdovers for Aaron Rodgers. Of the quartet, Rodgers offers the most upside, but the 2021 third-round pick is coming off a rookie season in which he finished with a scant four catches for 45 yards across 16 games. Given Rodgers’ history of needing time to develop rapport with receivers, it seems farfetched to expect a rookie receiver to make an immediate impact. The Packers remain favorites in the NFC North, but the team’s Super Bowl chances took a massive hit on Thursday night.