Marcell Ozuna Returns To Atlanta Braves, Even If The DH Location May Not

DH or no DH, Marcell Ozuna is heading back again to Atlanta just after all.

In what could be the free of charge-agent steal of the winter season, the Braves arrived to phrases with the 30-calendar year-outdated slugger late Friday – ending swirling rumors that he was about to indication somewhere else.

Just several hours after the Los Angeles Dodgers grabbed the headlines by signing Cy Younger Award winner Trevor Bauer to a three-calendar year, $102 million offer, the Braves introduced they gave Ozuna a four-yr, $64 million deal with an additional option year, for a optimum benefit of $80 million. If the staff does not physical exercise the solution, Ozuna would get a $1 million buyout.

Productive by means of the 2025 year, the contract’s once-a-year typical of $16 million is basically considerably less than the $18 million, 1-calendar year pact the potent Dominican signed with the Braves very last time.

However, it’s a gamble for the Braves, who like Ozuna’s strong bat but have been hesitant to indication him due to the fact of his defensive shortcomings in still left industry. The difficulty is a surgically repaired shoulder, which hampers his throwing.

During the pandemic-shortened 2020 marketing campaign, the 6-1, 220-pound Ozuna was deployed just about exclusively as a selected hitter when the DH became common throughout the year. He also performed 19 games in remaining area and two in suitable industry.

There is no doubt Ozuna’s very best position is batter. Actively playing the complete 60-activity plan past year, he led the National League with 18 dwelling runs, 56 operates batted in and 145 full bases batted a job-greatest .338 and had a .431 on-base proportion, .636 slugging proportion and 1.067 OPS (on-foundation plus slugging). 3 of his dwelling runs arrived in a single activity.

He even made a spirited run at the Triple Crown, which has not been received by a Nationwide League since Hall of Famer Joe Medwick did it in 1937.

In addition to his house operate and RBI titles, Ozuna wound up 3rd in batting, slugging, and on-foundation percentage and second in hits. Even though he has hardly ever performed in a Environment Series, Ozuna arrived near very last yr, hitting a few postseason residence operates to enable the Braves advance to the decisive seventh game of the NL Championship Sequence versus the Dodgers.

Very first signed by the Miami Marlins, Ozuna invested his first five seasons there in advance of transferring to the St. Louis Cardinals for a two-year stint. When the Braves signed him as a totally free agent on Jan. 22, 2020, they did not know the selected hitter would be prolonged to the Countrywide League for the to start with time.

That scenario exists again, since negotiations in between Important League Baseball and the Gamers Affiliation have not generated agreement on the DH or sustaining the expanded, 16-group postseason event that was tried out past tumble.

On the other hand, the Collective Bargaining Arrangement among gamers and proprietors expires right after this year and any new version is predicted to include a common DH. As a consequence, the Braves might have to cope with much less-than-stellar defense in still left discipline from Ozuna for 2021 on the assumption that he can revert to comprehensive-time DH responsibilities for the following 4 seasons (assuming the choice year is picked up).

It was largely because of the suitable-handed Ozuna that Freddie Freeman, the left-handed slugger who batted directly in entrance of him, was a runaway winner of the NL’s Most Useful Participant Award, his 1st, in 2020.

Ozuna finished sixth in the voting for the exact same honor but was named DH of the 12 months in a postseason poll revealed on MLB Network.

Despite the fact that the Braves acquired a jump on their NL East rivals by signing setting up pitchers Charlie Morton and Drew Smyly early in the off-year, Atlanta had been silent for months though their 3 key rivals produced important updates. Reports indicated the workforce was hesitant to shell out soon after dropping an estimated $100 million when lovers had been banned from stands, getting rid of crucial sport-working day earnings, in 2020.

In addition, Atlanta standard manager Alex Anthopoulos seemed focused on extending Freeman’s deal, which expires soon after this period, right before investing in other players.

Anthopoulos also had a monitor file of preferring one particular-calendar year contracts above lengthy-phrase promotions. That’s how he landed third baseman Josh Donaldson, who signed for $23 million two decades ago Ozuna and pitcher Cole Hamels, who obtained $18 million apiece in 1-12 months bargains past wintertime Morton, who obtained $15 million to depart the Tampa Bay Rays and Smyly, who took $11 million to jump from San Francisco to Atlanta.

The youthful standard manager, 20 many years younger than 65-12 months-outdated Atlanta field manager Brian Snitker, is also adept at participating in the ready match, hoping costs would come down as markets closed on players he coveted.

That transpired on consecutive times this week when the Minnesota Twins stored their DH, Nelson Cruz, and the Los Angeles Dodgers put in so much on no cost-agent pitcher Trevor Bauer (owing a document $40 million future 12 months) that their payroll rocketed past the luxurious tax threshold of $210 million.

While experiences circulated from the Dominican Republic Thursday that the reduced-funds Tampa Bay Rays ended up about to crack their bank to land Ozuna as a DH, the Braves swooped in to land the exciting-loving slugger. Various other golf equipment, which include the New York Mets, Chicago White Sox, and San Francisco Giants, ended up considered to be in the Ozuna sweepstakes as properly.

The slugger seemed to desire Atlanta, having said that, for the reason that of the strong bond he fashioned with fellow Latinos Ronald Acuña Jr. and Ozzie Albies. An Instagram photo of a celebrating Ozuna taking a selfie soon after a postseason household run promptly went viral.

The initial Braves player to direct the NL in either residence operates or RBI since Andruw Jones in 2005, Ozuna was the 1st to guide in both equally classes since Gioncarlo Stanton, then with the 2017 Miami Marlins.

If or when the DH returns to the NL, Ozuna will undoubtedly get initially dibs on the task. Otherwise, he’ll participate in left area, the place his deficiencies will be protected a little bit by rookie centre-fielder Cristian Pache, reputed to be the greatest defensive participant in the minors the previous two decades. Acuña, who owns a cannon of a throwing arm coupled with blazing foot velocity, is the anchor in ideal.

It is not selected no matter if the Braves will even now find to signal Adam Duvall, whom they non-tendered, or Nick Markakis, whose contract expired. Possibly would be much better than Ozuna in still left discipline. So would swap-hitting rookie Drew Waters, whom the Braves contemplate a star of the close to potential.

It is also probable Atlanta will sign veteran third baseman Justin Turner and go incumbent Austin Riley to still left. But that will not happen without having the DH.

The Braves remain in the sector for bullpen help and would like to keep Mark Melancon, their nearer final 12 months, or Shane Greene, a set-up guy with closing encounter.

Atlanta hasn’t won a pennant considering the fact that 1999 but hopes the additions of Ozuna, Morton, and Smyly will change that. The workforce has won three straight division titles but is considerably from its key-league report of 14, which it did from 1991-2005.