In my perfect offseason plan, I had Atlanta inking Ozuna to a big contract. However, I also had Darren O’Day‘s option being picked up, which already did not happen. After the number of high-quality players that saw their options declined, it seems everyone will be pinching pennies this offseason. So, what does that mean for a franchise that has historically been handcuffed financially? I listed some potential contingency plans, but none of them hold a candle to Ozuna.
It’s entirely possible a team like the Yankees, Mets, or Nationals swoop in and offer Ozuna something ridiculous. However, these are unprecedented times — there’s no telling how teams will spend. I’m predicting a similar offseason to 2018 when Bryce Harper and Machado didn’t sign until well into 2019. The market will be moving at a grinding halt, and Atlanta can hardly afford to lose one of their best players and would-be MVP if it wasn’t for Freddie Freeman. However, what will it take to keep Ozuna?
Marcell cashed in on a one year “prove it deal” similar to the value of a qualifying offer. He smacked an NL-leading 18 homers and 56 RBIs to the tune of a 1.067 OPS. I won’t harp on the silver slugger’s achievements — he was insane in 2020. The DH probably not being in play for the NL in 2021 shouldn’t deter Atlanta; Ozuna’s bat makes up for it. It’s no secret he deserves to cash in — he did “prove it.” However, will anyone offer him what he wants?
Josh Donaldson left Atlanta after leveraging an extra year with Minnesota, and so far, it hasn’t paid dividends for them. Ozuna is not analogous to him. He’s much younger and doesn’t have the injury history (or defense). Cristian Pache is ready, but his power isn’t developed to the level of Ozuna’s yet. Adam Duvall is still in the fold, but he’s a very streaky hitter. I think Atlanta will have to pony up and give Ozuna three years. If they don’t, a division rival might.
Braves fans were terrified Donaldson would go to Washington to replace Rendon, and it’s a possibility again this offseason. Re-signing Ozuna will likely direct Atlanta to the bargain bin for starting pitching, but with Anderson, Fried, and Soroka in the fold — it’s more acceptable.
I’m not completely ruling out the possibility of Ozuna settling for another one-year deal, especially if things become more clear surrounding the coronavirus between now and the start of next season. It may be best for him to take as much money as he can get this season and wait to sign a multi-year contract next offseason. However, considering the season he just had, I’m expecting an organization with much deeper pockets than Atlanta to scrounge up enough change to make him happy for several years to come.