Free agent OF Ozuna, Braves attain $18 million, 1-yr deal

By | January 22, 2020

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The Atlanta Braves stumbled on their new cleanup hitter when then reached an agreement with free agent outfielder Marcell Ozuna on an $18 million, one-yr deal Tuesday.

Ozuna joins the team he helped beat within the playoffs final October. He hit .429 with two dwelling runs for the St. Louis Cardinals of their 5-game accumulate over the Braves within the NL Division Sequence.

“We valid centered on the player we understanding used to be the very top match right here,” Braves total manager Alex Anthopoulos said. “We had been hunting for a middle of the uncover bat.”

The 29-yr-ragged Ozuna hit .241 with 29 dwelling runs and 89 RBIs final season. His low batting average used to be something on an oddity consequently of he ranked amongst the foremost league leaders within the very top percentage of laborious-hit balls, basically basically based on Statcast.

Ozuna might perchance be the likely preference to fill the fourth field within the Braves lineup that used to be left vacant when third baseman Josh Donaldson signed a $92 million, four-yr take care of Minnesota.

“The projection is he will bat cleanup for us, nonetheless our focal point used to be valid on getting right gamers,” Anthopoulos said.

The addition of Ozuna creates a logjam within the Atlanta outfield. Ronald Acuña Jr, Ender Inciarte and Sever Markakis had been expected to be the starters. Markakis might perchance well were centered to allotment the left self-discipline job with Adam Duvall.

Anthopoulos said Acuña and Ozuna are “projected as all and sundry gamers.” He said the paunchy self-discipline with Inciarte, Markakis and Duvall “shall be labored out over the direction of the spring.”

Anthopoulos said he believes Ozuna can return to the kind he confirmed whereas with Miami in 2017, when he hit .312 with 37 homers and 124 RBIs — all career highs.

“We loved our outfield nonetheless we in actuality in actuality feel strongly about Ozuna’s bat and we predict there’s plenty extra upside than what he confirmed final yr,” Anthopoulos said. “We valid understanding it might perchance well perchance perchance well well be a very right match for us and the deal made sense for every facet.”

The Ozuna signing also arrangement Johan Camargo and Austin Riley will compete for the starting job at third injurious unless the Braves produce one other dash.

Anthopoulos said Camargo has impressed the team with his “work ethic and conditioning” this offseason. He said Riley has labored on hitting breaking pitches after that weakness sign him taking half in time following a solid start to his 2019 rookie season.

Ozuna is a two-time All-Star who spent his first 5 seasons with the Marlins, then used to be traded and played two years in St. Louis.

Ozuna’s signing leaves infielder-outfielder Nicholas Castellanos because the final final main free agent with spring training assign to start in about three weeks.

The 2-time NL East champion Braves were busy this offseason. On Monday, they signed vulnerable AL Cy Younger Award winner and longtime Seattle ace Felix Hernández to a minor league with an invite to astronomical league spring training.

The Braves also fill signed outmoded left-hander Cole Hamels to an $18 million, one-yr deal so that you might perchance well add trip to the rotation. Atlanta signed one other left-hander, reliever Will Smith, a likely nearer, to a $40 million, three-yr contract and added catcher Travis d’Arnaud for a $16 million, two-yr deal.

Atlanta also has re-signed four gamers: Markakis, catcher Tyler Plants and relievers Darren O’Day and Chris Martin.