Atlanta Braves

Atlanta Braves signing Marcell Ozuna fills void in middle of lineup

Former St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Marcell Ozuna signed a one-year, $18 million dollar contract with the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday.

The Atlanta Braves are making moves in free agency.

After losing third baseman Josh Donaldson to the Minnesota Twins last week, the Braves have fill a void in the middle of the batting order with the addition of outfielder Marcell Ozuna. The team announced he signed a one-year deal worth $18 million.

Ozuna, who began his career with the Miami Marlins, is coming off two seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals. The 29-year-old played an important role in the Cardinals’ victory over the Braves in the 2019 NLDS.

Ozuna made his MLB debut in 2013, but his career really peaked in the 2017 season. He finished that season with a .312 batting average, 37 home runs, and 124 RBIs. His performance earned him a Golden Glove and a Silver Slugger and even garnered some MVP votes.

His time with the Cardinals wasn’t as strong, but he still put up decent numbers at the plate. Ozuna finished the 2019 season with a .241 batting average, 29 home runs, and 89 RBIs. In the 2019 NL Division Series against the Braves, Ozuna had a batting average of .429 and hit two home runs in five games.

Ozuna does struggle defensively, with just two defensive runs saved in 2019 compared to 10 DRS in his 2017 season.

With the addition of Ozuna, the Braves will replace some of what they lost with Donaldson’s departure. It could make them one of the stronger offenses in the league, with Ozuna hitting behind MVP candidates Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuna Jr. They still need to sort out who they’re going to put at third base, but at least Ozuna fills the offensive gap in the middle of the order.

The one year contract leaves the Braves flexible in the long-term. The hope is Ozuna has a prove-it year in a contract year just as Donaldson did for the Braves in 2019. At least for this season, they will be getting someone who could be a difference-maker for a team looking to return to the playoffs.

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