BY KEVIN MCALPIN
Since losing Josh Donaldson to the Twins a week ago today, the Braves have helped fill the void left by his bat in the middle of the order, agreeing to a one-year, $18 million dollar deal with free agent outfielder Marcell Ozuna. The 29 year old spent the last two seasons with the St Louis Cardinals and over the last three years, has combined to hit .281 with 89 homers, 69 doubles and an .832 OPS.
Signing Ozuna means the Braves now have a surplus of outfielders, with Nick Markakis, Ender Inciarte and Adam Duvall all under contract for 2020. That said, today’s move could also signal the possibility for a move down the road, possibly part of a larger deal to land a Kris Bryant or even Nolan Arenado. Both of those deals seem a little less likely, but adding Ozuna and either Bryant or Arenado to the heart of the order would give the club one of the deepest offenses top to bottom in the game. Also keep in mind the big bat of Austin Riley, which will likely be lurking at Triple-A to start the regular season.
The addition of Ozuna on a short term deal also keeps both Christian Pache and Drew Waters in play to get to the Majors as early as the second half of this season. But it also doesn’t block them longterm, as both are knocking on the door of being Big League ready. From what I’m told, Ozuna will be a great fit with this club as his presence is still missed in Miami where he was viewed as a clubhouse leader.
Kevin McAlpin has covered the Braves since 2012 for @680TheFan and the @BravesRadioNet.