It is free agency time for Major League Baseball and rumor season comes along with that. We are still a few weeks away from the Baseball Winter Meetings, but we have already seen a bit more activity this offseason than we have in the last couple.
The Atlanta Braves inked closer Will Smith to a three-year deal last week but still have several needs for the 2020 roster. It is not clear how high adding another outfielder to the mix would be on the priority list. Still, the Braves are reportedly one of several teams that have some interest in former Cardinals outfielder Marcell Ozuna according to a report by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Derrick Goold.
The interest in Ozuna gained some clarity for his agent Melvin Roman this week as he met with teams. At least six teams have expressed initial interest in Ozuna and according to multiple sources that group includes the Reds and the White Sox. Atlanta and Texas also have some interest. The Cardinals and Ozuna’s agent both say they remain in contact. Ozuna has expressed an interest in remaining with the Cardinals. The Cardinals are reluctant to commit the amount of years Ozuna seeks.
Ozuna just turned 29 and hit .243/.330/.474 with 29 home runs in 130 games for St. Louis in 2019. That equated to 2.6 fWAR as his defensive skills have been on a downward trend for the last several seasons. He did go 9-for-21 with three doubles and two homers against the Braves in the Division Series.
I feel like Ozuna could provide a boost to some team due to his offensive skills but it would seem like a strange fit for Atlanta. The Braves already sacrificed a draft pick to sign Smith earlier this offseason. While they might be willing to lose another, it would seem that a starting pitcher would be the more likely target. This feels like a situation where Atlanta is exploring options for a middle of the order bat should Josh Donaldson sign elsewhere.
Right now I don’t put a whole lot of stock into this rumor but is worth keeping an eye on. This just feels like a situation where a team is doing its due diligence on an available player.