Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos on Marcell Ozuna plan: ‘Meritocracy’

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Spring Training is right around the corner, and Braves players are already reporting in Florida. There is a slew of interesting storylines to follow, and Marcell Ozuna is one of them.

Alex Anthopoulos spoke with Dukes and Bell on 92.9 The Game Monday evening, talking about the plan for Ozuna. The word that stuck out most to me was his use of ‘meritocracy’:

Meritocracy is a political system in which power is vested in individuals based on talent, effort, and achievement rather than status or wealth. So, just because Marcell Ozuna is owed $32 million over the next two seasons doesn’t mean he’s guaranteed playing time or even a roster spot. The writing is on the wall: if Ozuna has a bad Spring Training, he could very well be released.

After nearly capturing the Triple Crown, Ozuna signed a lucrative four-year, $65 million contract to stay in Atlanta. However, it’s been downhill since then. Ozuna has accrued -0.9 fWAR because of his abysmal defense, .222 batting average, and .675 OPS since signing that deal. It remains one of the worst warts on Alex Anthopoulos’ resumé.

In the same breath, Marcell Ozuna didn’t forget how to hit. He’s mashed baseballs his entire career. I expect him to bounce back considerable and become the team’s primary DH for the 2023 season. FanGraphs projects him to finish the season with a 106wRC+, and Chase has Ozuna doing even more in his projections:

Marcell Ozuna 2023 Stat Predictions: .256/.321/.480, .801 OPS, 31 home runs, 94 RBIs, 1.7 fWAR

AA is a world class GM when handling the public and media. It’s not only the correct thing to say, it’s the right approach as well. The Braves are trying to win another World Series and no roster spot should be safe if the production isn’t there.

Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

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