The Braves shocked many around the baseball world by signing slugging outfielder Marcell Ozuna to a one-year, $18 million deal earlier in the offseason. It was assumed by most, Ozuna included, that a lucrative multi-year contract awaited as the outfielder came entered free agency. After he rejected a qualifying offer from the Cardinals, the market for Ozuna never materialized in the form of a long-term deal, so the 29-year-old settled for a one-year deal with Atlanta.
On Thursday, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch wrote about Ozuna and the process that led to his acceptance of a one-year deal.
“If I knew before it was going to happen like this, I would have taken it,” Ozuna said. “But I wanted to make sure I had a chance (at a contract) for my career.”
”If they offer a good offer, I would get it,” Ozuna said. “But they didn’t do it. … I thought the Cardinals were going to offer something (early), but they didn’t do that after I rejected the qualifying offer. So, I got patient. And I waited. And I talked to my agent a lot of the time. We were waiting – and then Atlanta was the team that gave me the opportunity for the one year and a good deal. I had to do that.”
Obviously this is not the ringing endorsement that the Braves had hoped to hear from their newest addition, especially given his prominent role in halting Atlanta’s postseason plans. That Ozuna wanted to return to St. Louis is not surprising; that he would admit it during Spring Training as a member of the Braves is very surprising.
Comments like these are unlikely to have any effect on Ozuna from a fanfare standpoint going forward, but they do highlight the frustration shared by many players around the league. The encumbrance that is the qualifying offer has become a deterrent for teams shopping for free agents, and Ozuna is just one in a long line of players feeling the ill-effects of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement. Ozuna will not be faced with this issue again next offseason, but that he is still bothered this late into the offseason/Spring Training is noteworthy.
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