2. Matt Olson, 1B
Unlike Marcus Semien, first baseman Matt Olson did not waste any time becoming a cornerstone player. In fact, Olson along with teammate Matt Chapman have become one of the best bargains in baseball.
With that being said, Olson and Chapman will both see substantial raises in 2021 as each will go through arbitration for the first time.
The left-handed bat has produced a .254/.343/.545 line (131 OPS+) in parts of four seasons with the A’s. This includes 89 home runs, 220 RBI, and 194 runs scored.
Olson does not just bring a solid bat to the table. The first baseman has earned an American League Gold Glove in each of the past two seasons. He is truly one of the best two-way players in baseball.
He and Chapman could hold down the corner infield spots at the Coliseum for the next several years, but at some point, the As front office will have a decision to make.
The A’s will likely only have enough resources to extend one of their cornerstone players, and if Semien, Olson, and Chapman continue to produce in 2020, then it is possible that all three will play in a different uniform in the coming seasons.
This would be a sad outcome, but the A’s should try to keep at least one of their players.
That is what makes this decision so difficult to evaluate. The decision could effectively become whether to keep either Olson or Chapman long-term.
Despite Olson’s productive bat, the reality is that the slugger does not play a premium position. In addition to first base, the 25-year-old has some experience in right field.
The A’s may see first base as a position that they can replace relatively easily. It would be difficult to replace Olson’s overall value as he has been worth 12.0 WAR since debuting with the A’s. Still, the odds of extending Olson beyond his rookie contract seem low.
Odds: 33 percent
The fact that Olson does not plays a premium position could be a factor limiting his chances of remaining with the A’s in the long-term. As the A’s have done in previous seasons, they tend a trade a player when his value is peaking, meaning a player with controllable years.
This could be the outcome with Olson.