Braves re-sign two-time All-Star Marcell Ozuna to four-year, $64M deal
The Braves are re-signing outfielder Marcell Ozuna to a four-year deal, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The club has announced the move, and it’s a $65M guarantee that could reach $80M if the Braves pick up an option in Year 5, per Robert Murray of FanSided. Hector Gomez reported earlier on Friday that Ozuna was close to returning to Atlanta. The buyout in 2025 is worth $1M, Craig Mish of SportsGrid relays. Ozuna is a client of CAA Sports.
This is an enormous raise for Ozuna, a former Marlin and Cardinal who parlayed a history of above-average production into an $18M guarantee with the Braves last winter. It ended up as a great move by Atlanta, as Ozuna slashed a monstrous .338/.431/.636 with 18 home runs in 60 games and 267 plate appearances. Along with his stellar bottom-line numbers, Ozuna ranked as an elite hitter by Statcast’s standards.
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Marcell Ozuna, the former Greensboro Grasshopper(2011), is arguably the best position player left on the open market, and the Atlanta Braves are looking to win a World Series with their deep-rooted core. The two parties would benefit from a reunion.
Ozuna spent the condensed 2020 Major League Baseball season with the Braves and performed at an outlying level. Appearing in all 60 regular-season games, the 30-year-old posted a .338 batting average, a 1.067 OPS, a 175 OPS+, 18 home runs, and 56 RBI.
In doing so, he outperformed several hitters in an Atlanta offense that featured the likes of Freddie Freeman, Ronald Acuna Jr., and Ozzie Albies. Ozuna is a pure power hitter. He has a long, towering swing that generates slug and has helped him be one of the most productive hitters in the sport. Ozuna has finished in the top 10 percent of MLB in average exit velocity in each of the last four seasons.
Yes, the Braves could let Ozuna walk and still have a well-oiled offense. Johan Camargo could take the starting reins at the hot corner, moving Austin Riley to left field. Both players are capable starters with pop in their bats. Another option is Cristian Pache, the team’s top position-player prospect, getting the nod as one of Brian Snitker‘s three starting outfielders.
On the other hand, the Braves are coming off blowing a 3-1 series lead to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Championship Series and have failed to win the NL since emerging as a core in 2018. At some point, they have to cash in. Ozuna and Freeman could continue to protect each other in the middle of the order and form quite possibly the best one-through-four offensive punch in baseball (Acuna, Albies, Freeman, and Ozuna).
Last season, Ozuna made a great Braves offense formidable. (They finished the regular season first in MLB in hits and OPS.) He’d be doing the same for them over a 150-plus-game regular season. While they added Charlie Morton, the Braves starting rotation is still a question mark for 2021 given Mike Soroka‘s Achilles tendon injury and a handful of starters embarking on pitching for the entirety of a traditional MLB season for the first time. Who’s to say that the Braves rotation isn’t in the middle of the pack next season? In that scenario, they’ll need their offense to be otherworldly to evade falling behind.
Keeping Ozuna helps that cause.
Plus, the NL East gets stiffer by the day.
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