The biggest question of the Braves’ offseason is if they should re-sign Marcell Ozuna. At first glance, the obvious answer is yes. Ozuna was one of the most dangerous hitters in the league and was the engine behind Atlanta’s offense. He was the perfect fit behind Ronald Acuna Jr. and Freddie Freeman because was consistently able to drive them in. Ozuna led the National League in 18 home runs and 56 RBIs, which is something any team would be lucky to have. Additionally, he got on base at a high rate by averaging .338 with a 1.067 OPS. Because of these impressive numbers, he is likely to ask for a huge contract to pay him for his bat. Ozuna is expected to get a multi-year contract with an average annual value of $20-25 million, with many fans question if the Braves will be able to pay that.
Atlanta Needs Ozuna
There is a split across Atlanta’s fanbase on whether Ozuna is worth that big of a contract. After losing out on the bidding war for Josh Donaldson last offseason to the Twins, fans don’t want to let another impact player walk. If he leaves, nobody has any idea who would replace him. There is no option left among the remaining free agent who was as productive as Ozuna was last year. Additionally, when looking at the Braves’ system, Austin Riley is the one player who has the power to replace Ozuna but is nowhere near as consistent. Ozuna was the perfect power bat in the Braves’ lineup last season and should keep him on the team at all costs. Atlanta needs to spend money to be competitive in the NL East, so many believe that signing Ozuna help them win the division as they did in 2020.
Avoid Ozuna At All Costs
However, there are many reasons why Ozuna just doesn’t make sense for the Braves. The 2020 season was the best season of Ozuna’s career by far. He has never had a year like this before and likely never will again. Ozuna only played at an MVP level for one year, so there is no reason to pay him like he is that type of player every year. There are cheaper options, such as Adam Duvall, who was on the team last year. He would provide similar production when compared to one of Ozuna’s typical seasons, but the Braves would be paying him a lot less.
The Braves have to think about where else they are going to spend their money. Everyone in Atlanta loves Freeman and fans would instantly turn against the team if they let him walk next season. He was the MVP in 2020, so they must save some money, by potentially not signing Ozuna, to be able to retain Freeman. Additionally, players like Max Fried, Mike Soroka and Dansby Swanson will all be in line for huge extensions in the coming years. In order to pay all of them, they can’t have a massive contract, like Ozuna, on the books. The Braves will need to prioritize paying their young core over a one-time All-Star DH.
Although Braves fans have differing opinions on whether or not they decide to re-sign Ozuna, only one man’s thoughts truly matters: Alex Anthopoulos. He has made several significant strides to improve the team over the last couple of years and has the full faith of the fanbase. Whatever decision he makes on Ozuna, the fans will be behind him as long he pursues other targets to improve the team.
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