Braves: Could Michael Brantley fill the void left by Marcell Ozuna?

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I’ve made it pretty clear over the last month or so: the Braves top priority is to re-sign Marcell Ozuna. If they aren’t able to do that, they better be willing to offer George Springer a pretty penny. However, signing one of those two is easier said than done. It may not be possible, which means the Braves must have multiple backup plans in place. One of those options could be four-time All-Star outfielder Michael Brantley.

Brantley really is the only outfielder not named Ozuna or Springer that could possibly fill the void of Ozuna leaving. He burst on the scene in 2014 when he finished third in the AL MVP race after hitting .327 with 20 homers and 45 doubles for the Cleveland Indians. Then the injury bug struck. Brantley only played in 101 games over the next two seasons, which led to several teams straying away when he became a free agent after the 2018 campaign. Nevertheless, he signed with the Houston Astros, where he proved he can stay healthy and still produce at a high level.

With Houston, Brantley was exactly they needed in the heart of their lineup. He’s as professional of a hitter as they come, slashing .309/.370/.497 with 27 homers and 55 doubles over the last two seasons (194 games). He’s no slouch defensively either. If the Braves are tight for money, they could do much worse than signing the 33-year-old Brantley to a one or two-year contract. However, is he enough to fill the void that would be left by Marcell Ozuna?

By himself, the answer is no. If the Braves feel like Marcell Ozuna’s price-tag becomes too ridiculous and don’t have enough money to sign George Springer, bringing in Brantley on a much more affordable deal has to become a top priority. However, the money they saved by not re-signing Ozuna needs to be put to good use. Brantley will add some much-needed consistency to the top of Atlanta’s lineup, but I still think they would need to find a power bat to slot behind Freddie Freeman.

Freeman has thrived with guys like Josh Donaldson and Marcell Ozuna hitting behind him. Meanwhile, Donaldson and Ozuna took full advantage of all the run-scoring opportunities provided to them with guys like Acuña, Albies, and Freeman hitting in front of them. That is something Alex Anthopoulos has to be considering when he’s making these offseason moves. Brantley is still a high-quality — possibly even an All-Star caliber — player, but I’m not sure he would strike the same kind of fear into opposing pitchers behind Freddie Freeman. If the Braves go in this direction, which is totally plausible, I think they will also have to add a fourth-outfielder to the mix with some pop, or possibly a third baseman that could put some pressure on Austin Riley.


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