The Atlanta Braves and Marcell Ozuna agreed to a one-year, $18 million deal on Tuesday. The Braves had been reported to be after one of Castellanos or Ozuna after losing the Josh Donaldson sweepstakes. Losing out on Donaldson left the Braves with a spot to fill in the heart of their order. They needed a power bat to fill that void and they found just the right player on a great deal. Ozuna will slot into the clean-up spot for the Braves and make their top four one of the best in the league.
Ozuna’s 2019 was one that showed a lot of promise. He almost doubled his walk rate from the previous year as well as improving his overall power numbers. As Braves fans remember, Ozuna showed the caliber of hitter he is as he strong-armed Atlanta’s pitching in the NLDS. Ozuna is projected to hit thirty-one home runs while adding twenty-eight doubles according to Steamer.
Baseball Savant had Ozuna ranked in the 96th percentile for hard-hit percentile and 93rd percentile for exit velocity in 2019. These two metrics point towards him being able to improve on his numbers in 2020. Ozuna’s last two years in St. Louis have not been like those in Miami but there are signs that he will get back to those levels.
Braves in 2020
This move for the Braves will move Nick Markakis to the fourth outfielder role and could possibly push Adam Duvall back to Triple-A Gwinnett. The Braves’ Opening Day outfield could be Ozuna, Ender Inciarte, and Ronald Acuna.
Per Mark Bowman, GM Alex Anthopoulos has faith in Brian Snitker to figure out how to handle the roles for these five players in saying that “I’m sure Snit will have that all ironed out by March 26.”
The Braves projected opening day lineup:
With the addition of the 26th roster spot this season, the Braves have some wiggle room with bench players. The locks for the bench are Tyler Flowers, Markakis and Hechavarria. Austin Riley may come up when he is ready if he doesn’t make the Opening Day roster. Otherwise, players such as Duvall, Charlie Culberson, Alex Jackson, William Contreras, Rafael Ortega, and Yangervis Solarte will be the first guys on call from Gwinnett.
The Braves will be giving up their third-highest 2020 draft pick for signing Ozuna but they gained a compensation pick for Donaldson leaving. The Braves’ top draft picks after this signing slot in at #25 (Round One) and #73 (Compensation Round; From the Twins). They also lost their second-round pick with the signing of reliever Will Smith.
This one-year deal does not block either Christian Pache or Drew Waters, the Braves top-two prospects. This is a no-risk contract as $18 million will not break the bank and will not lock up money for next season. If Ozuna performs, it will be very similar to how Donaldson worked out and if not then they can go their separate ways. Braves’ fans should be excited about this addition and with the off-season as a whole. Braves signed their closer, added a rotation piece and now have their power bat.
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