The Braves have added their middle-of-the-order bat, and it’s not a third baseman. It’s a corner outfielder in Marcell Ozuna.
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) January 22, 2020
With his market clearly depressed by a qualifying offer and his limitations in the outfield (and also having really only one standout season over the past five years), Ozuna settles for a one-year deal, hoping to have a better market next year. He gets a touch over the $17.8 million qualifying offer he rejected, and the Cardinals pick up a compensatory draft pick.
With Ozuna a corner outfield spot, you’ve got to assume that Austin Riley and Johan Camargo are the combined plan at third base. That doesn’t preclude the Braves from adding a guy like Kris Bryant (with Riley, for example, going out as part of the deal), but with Ozuna in place, the urgency to do so drops dramatically. That’s not to say Ozuna is the hitter Bryant is – he’s not – but when you can add Ozuna for only a fourth round draft pick and $18 million, that probably looks a lot more attractive than the cost Bryant will require in trade.
We’ll see how this plays out in the coming days, particularly after Bryant’s service time grievance is finally decided. But the Braves might be out.
Unless this makes them want to add even more short-term pieces to really push in 2020 …
Meanwhile, this suggests the market for Nick Castellanos (no qualifying offer, but teams a little more concerned with his defense) might not be overwhelmingly strong. I wonder if the Rangers will jump on it soon.