Alex Anthopoulos says Braves never considered releasing Marcell Ozuna

Braves Marcell Ozuna

While the Braves offense has struggled as a whole, Marcell Ozuna has been the steady hand in the middle of the lineup, just as everyone expected when the season began. The Big Bear leads the league in homers, RBIs, slugging, OPS, and OPS+. A designated hitter has never gone on to win an MVP award, but if anyone is deserving of at least being in the conversation after the season’s first two months, it is Ozuna, who has been arguably the Braves best offensive player since May of last year.

That’s when things really began to turn around. After multiple arrests, Ozuna started last season by hitting under .100, and his impending release felt inevitable. Fans were counting down the days until he no longer donned a Braves uniform, and high-profile MLB insiders even reported that his release was imminent. However, according to Alex Anthopoulos, who recently did a lengthy interview with Chris Domino and Nick Cellini of 680 The Fan, that was never something that was even considered.

“I remember being on your show last year early, and it was, ‘When is Marcell Ozuna going to get released, right?'” Anthopoulos said. “And it was getting loud. I was getting phone calls. Why is he not getting released? Madison Bumgarner had been released. Aaron Hicks had been released from the Yankees, and everyone was like, ‘He’s next, he’s next.'”

“There was never a conversation. Everyone is always like, ‘He was a week away, two weeks away.’ I don’t know who they were talking to but it wasn’t the GM of the team. We never had a discussion once of releasing him. I think the conversation back then would have been, if we were going to be critical of it, is why is Snit playing him? He’s not playing well. Why’s he getting at-bats… Snit deserves full credit because he kept running him out there through the boos and everything else.”

It’s wild to hear Alex Anthopolous talk about Marcell Ozuna in this light because it was more than fair for everyone to question why Ozuna was on the team a little over a year ago. He’d been nothing but a nuisance off the field, arrested for both domestic violence and driving under the influence, and on the field, he was just as disappointing. All signs pointed to it being a sunk cost; however, his clubhouse presence continued to buy him more time, and Brian Snitker never lost faith.

We may never see a 180 quite like the one we’ve seen with Marcell Ozuna in Atlanta. From a universally despised figure amongst the fans to the saving grace of a struggling offense. It’s been quite the turnaround to watch up close.

Photo: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

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