The Marcell Ozuna free agency market was reported to be picking up last week, but it does not seem as if the Atlanta Braves are involved.
According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the Braves are “highly unlikely” to re-sign the right-handed slugger due to their payroll structure.
Ozuna, 30, is coming off an MVP-caliber season, in which he slashed .338/.431/.636 with an NL-leading 18 home runs and 56 RBI last season on a one-year deal with the Braves.
The loss would be a huge blow to the Braves’ lineup, which will be absent a right-handed hitting power bat behind Freddie Freeman without Ozuna.
Olney suggested that the Braves could move Travis d’Arnaud, coming off a career-year himself, into the cleanup spot as an alternative.
Ozuna’s 2020 season is likely to garner him a multi-year deal – which Braves GM Alex Anthopolous has shied away from giving free agents. Atlanta was in a similar situation last offseason, losing Josh Donaldson to the Minnesota Twins.
Ozuna’s market appears to be limited, however.
Per Olney, many evaluators view Ozuna has a full-time designated hitter and as things currently stand, only the American League will have the DH in 2021.
That could still change, though, which would impact Ozuna’s market and give him more negotiating power. But, for now, Ozuna appears destined for an AL team.