Braves' GM on potential Red Sox target Marcell Ozuna: 'I'd love to have him back'


In February, Marcell Ozuna expressed regret that he didn't accept the St. Louis Cardinals qualifying offer, which would have paid him $17.8 million in 2020. However, it's hard to argue with the results he got playing on a one-year/$18 million deal for the Atlanta Braves in 2020.

Ozuna had a monster year for the Braves while playing on a one-year, prove-it deal. In his age-29 season, Ozuna slashed .338/.431/.636 with 18 home runs and 56 RBIs, both marks that led the sport in 2020. Had there been an All-Star Game in 2020, Ozuna would have been there, and he fit right into a lineup that came within a game of reaching the World Series.

Set to hit the free-agent market again, Ozuna admitted in an Instagram post that his future with the team is unclear, but expressed optimism about the future:

Braves' general manager Alex Anthopoulos also acknowledged uncertainty about whether the relationship will continue, but made clear that the organization was thrilled with what Ozuna added to the team in 2020.

“Marcell was amazing for us. He was awesome. I’d love to have him back," Anthopoulos told the collective media, including Mark Bowman of "I certainly plan on having discussions. But just a day after we got back, there is uncertainty in so many areas. I’m not trying to be cryptic or to foreshadow. We’re going to have to work hard to get as many answers as we can from a revenue standpoint, a [designated hitter] standpoint, all of those things. But there’s no doubt he was tremendous for us. He fit in great, and we’d love to have him be a part of what we’re doing going forward.”

It's difficult to know exactly what type of deal Ozuna will command this offseason. He's coming off of a monster season, but that did come in a shortened season. Additionally, Ozuna posted -2 defensive runs saved in 162.0 innings in the outfield, primarily serving as the DH of the Braves. Certainly, his market would be more robust if the DH is made permanent in the National League. While it feels unlikely that sport would eliminate the universal DH in 2021, nothing has been made official to this point.

We also don't know how the Braves would feel about giving a lucrative multi-year deal in general. Over the past two years, they've signed the aforementioned Donaldson, Ozuna and Cole Hamels to expensive deals over one year. While the Hamels deal was unsuccessful, Donaldson and Ozuna both put up superstar-caliber production. Perhaps the Braves would prefer to continue going back to the well of signing accomplished veterans looking to rebuild their value to one-year deals. Certainly, with the COVID-19-induced economic losses in the sport in 2020, there will be quite a few players to choose from to sign to bounce-back deals this offseason.

If the Braves don't reach an agreement with Ozuna this offseason, they won't receive any draft compensation if he were to sign with another organization. Due to the fact that the Cardinals issued a qualifying offer to him last winter, Ozuna is ineligible to receive another one this offseason.

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