After a pair of underwhelming seasons in St. Louis (107 OPS+ from 2018-19),
Below is a list of the latest news and rumors surrounding the outfielder/designated hitter, who turned 30 on Nov. 12.
Ozuna hires new representation
Nov. 22: CAA Sports announced Sunday that it has signed Ozuna, who was previously represented by MDR Sports Management. CAA also represents catcher J.T. Realmuto, another top free agent.
This is the second time in the past two years that Ozuna has switched agencies. He joined MDR in May 2019. MDR negotiated Ozuna’s one-year, $18 million deal with the Braves last January.
Ozuna reportedly had multiyear offers on the table before signing with Atlanta, but he opted to bet on himself with a one-year contract that gave him the opportunity to test free agency again this offseason without being tied to Draft-pick compensation. The decision worked out, as the slugger led the National League in homers and RBIs.
CAA Sports has announced the signing of Marcell Ozuna — one of the top 5 free agents on the current market — as a new client.
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) November 22, 2020
Ranking Ozuna’s likeliest suitors
Nov. 20: Despite his defensive limitations and the uncertainty surrounding the designated hitter in the National League, Ozuna is drawing widespread interest already, with MLB Network insider Jon Heyman recently reporting that as many as 10 teams were in the mix.
MLB.com’s Will Leitch looked at Ozuna’s market Friday and ranked some of his potential suitors. In Leitch’s view, the Braves are leading the race. See who else made the list. More >
Could Astros replace Springer with Ozuna?
Nov. 18: George Springer is one of the major reasons why the Astros have been a perennial contender since 2015, but his tenure in Houston could be over. Count MLB Network insider Jon Heyman among those who don’t think the Astros will re-sign the free-agent center fielder this offseason.
“I think he’s as good as gone,” Heyman said on this week’s episode of the Big Time Baseball podcast.
Houston reportedly has been eyeing free agent Jackie Bradley Jr. as Springer’s potential replacement in center, but the 30-year-old isn’t in Springer’s league offensively.
It’s possible the Astros could sign Bradley to play center and add a more offensive-minded player in left field, where they also have a vacancy, with Michael Brantley joining Springer on the free-agent market. While Brantley is an option to return, Houston may aim its sights a bit higher.
Per Heyman, the Astros have expressed interest in Ozuna, whose market reportedly runs at least 10 teams deep. What Houston will need to decide is whether it is comfortable playing Ozuna in the field, as Yordan Alvarez is likely to enter 2021 as the team’s regular designated hitter after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on both knees in August.
Report: Mets show interest in Ozuna
Nov. 16: The Mets saw first-hand the damage Ozuna can do with a bat in his hands while he topped the NL in homers and RBIs. But could Ozuna inflict that damage in orange and blue next season?
The New York Post’s Ken Davidoff reports that the Mets have expressed interest in the free-agent slugger. They’re far from alone, of course; MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reported last week that as many as 10 teams had shown some level of interest in Ozuna, though this is the first time that the Mets have specifically been connected to him by a major report. The fit between New York and Ozuna isn’t obvious, since the club is seemingly covered at DH (Pete Alonso, Robinson Canó and J.D. Davis) and the corner-outfield spots (Michael Conforto and Jeff McNeil). But as Davidoff points out, the Mets’ lineup does skew heavier toward the left side than most other offenses, and the right-handed Ozuna could help them improve against lefty pitchers (.773 OPS).
Catcher J.T. Realmuto and center fielder George Springer would seem to be more sensical targets given the Mets’ needs at those positions, but if the designated hitter stays in the NL for 2021, adding Ozuna to New York’s lineup certainly wouldn’t hurt.
Where will Ozuna land? Experts say …
Nov. 14: Ozuna is one of the most coveted free agents on the market this offseason, so there is no shortage of predictions as to where the slugging outfielder will land for the 2021 season. MLB.com asked three reporters for their thoughts on the matter, and all three had a different destination for Ozuna. More >
Ozuna drawing interest from as many as 10 teams
Nov. 13: Ozuna had trouble finding the multiyear deal he wanted last offseason, ultimately betting on himself by signing a one-year, $18 million contract with the Braves. Ineligible to receive another qualifying offer, Ozuna isn’t tied to Draft-pick compensation this time around, and he’s also coming off a much better season, one in which he led the National League in homers (18) and RBIs (56) while posting a .338/.431/.636 slash line.
As expected, his market is shaping up to be much more robust than it was a year ago. MLB Network insider Jon Heyman has heard that the 30-year-old is drawing interest from as many as 10 teams, and that’s without knowing whether the NL will have the designated-hitter spot in 2021. If MLB and the MLB Players Association come to an agreement that keeps the DH in the Senior Circuit next season, it’s possible even more teams could enter the mix.
No less than 10 teams, including the Braves, have showed interest in Marcell Ozuna, who led the NL with 18 home runs and 56 RBI and finished 6th in MVP voting. Interest comes from both leagues but it can’t hurt that the universal DH is on the horizon.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 13, 2020
The Braves are believed to be interested in bringing Ozuna back, and plenty of other clubs could use his powerful right-handed bat, including the White Sox, Red Sox, Cardinals, Rangers and Astros.
Ozuna in the White Sox lineup?
Nov. 6: Can you imagine adding Ozuna to an already loaded White Sox lineup that features AL MVP finalist José Abreu alongside sluggers Luis Robert and Eloy Jiménez? MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand can, and writes that with Chicago getting poor production from the designated hitter spot in the lineup in 2020 (the Edwin Encarnación signing didn’t really work out) and James McCann likely departing via free agency, Ozuna could be great replacement while making the White Sox the favorite to win the AL Central in 2021. More >
Is Ozuna’s free-agent stock rising?
Nov. 4: Ozuna had a huge season in 2020, reminiscent of his breakout 2017 that put him on the map before he regressed at the plate over the next two years. But it may be his postseason success that ultimately proves to be key in his next contract valuation. MLB Network analyst Dan Plesac said Ozuna’s stock is rising because of his success against the tough pitching he faced in October.
“It was a two-man wrecking crew — he and Freddie Freeman,” Plesac said Wednesday on MLB Tonight. “What amazed me was [Ozuna] cuts his swing down and he’ll hit the ball to right field. He’ll use the entire field, he’ll hit the home run, and he’s one of these guys from the pitcher’s perspective that, when you watch the game, he’ll swing at a bad pitch and it’ll be 0-2, and the next thing you know he’ll be right back in that count, 2-2 or 3-2, and you cannot throw this guy a breaking ball for a strike.”
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) November 5, 2020
Are Braves the faves for Ozuna?
Nov. 3: Ozuna was one of the most ferocious hitters in baseball in 2020, so he would figure to attract no shortage of interest on the free-agent market, despite his defensive shortcomings. Even so, Ozuna may stay put in Atlanta.
In fact, when MLB.com executive reporter Mark Feinsand laid out the top eight potential suitors for Ozuna on Tuesday, the Braves came in at No. 1 on the list. After all, things worked out quite well for the two sides in 2020, when Ozuna put together the best season of his career (albeit over 60 games) and Atlanta advanced to the National League Championship Series for the first time in almost 20 years.
Plus, as Feinsand writes, Ozuna “seemed to be a perfect fit in the Braves’ clubhouse, so signing him to a multiyear deal should be under consideration.”
But there undoubtedly will be competition for Ozuna’s hard-hitting services, especially since he was not eligible to receive a qualifying offer that would have tied him to Draft pick compensation. Feinsand lists the White Sox and Red Sox as two other potential landing spots for the slugger, while projecting that he will top the four-year, $64 million deal that Nick Castellanos got from the Reds last offseason.
Will Ozuna leave Braves for another NL East team?
Nov. 2: Ozuna re-enters the free-agent market in a much better place than he was last offseason, when he was coming off a down year and had Draft-pick compensation attached to him after rejecting a qualifying offer from the Cardinals.
Atlanta will likely try to bring Ozuna back on a multiyear deal, but MLB Trade Rumors sees the slugger jumping ship to another National League East club, the 2019 World Series-champion Nationals, on a four-year, $72 million contract.
The Nationals have a hole in right field after choosing not to pick up Adam Eaton’s $10.5 million option. Juan Soto has primarily played left field during his career, but it’s possible the club could shift him to right to clear the way for Ozuna in left, assuming the NL doesn’t have the designated-hitter spot in 2021.
Boosting the offense is sure to be a priority for the Nationals. Washington ranked sixth in the NL in runs this past season, but the club was heavily reliant on Soto and Trea Turner. Among the 10 Nats with at least 100 plate appearances in 2020, Soto and Turner were the only two to post an OPS above .787.
Could Ozuna be heading to the Lone Star State?
Nov. 1: It’s still unclear whether the universal DH will return in 2021, but while the baseball world waits for that decision, MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince has a landing spot for Ozuna that makes sense right now.
The Rangers have a lineup hole with Shin-Soo Choo coming off the books, and they are clearly a team that needs to upgrade its offense to adapt to its new and bigger ballpark, Globe Life Field. Castrovince predicts Texas will address that need by signing Ozuna, who could pair with Joey Gallo to give the Rangers a fearsome middle-of-the order. Texas will have a DH spot for Ozuna in 2021, no matter what. More >