As Braves fans, we have been patient. Too patient. On May 29th, Marcell Ozuna was arrested for domestic assault and since then, he’s been placed on the restricted list and news has been slow. The latest has his legal charges lessened, and while I won’t get into that, this doesn’t really impact what MLB’s punishment might be, and my guess is that Ozuna will be suspended for a lengthy portion of the 2022 season.
Even if the Braves get lucky and Ozuna is suspended without pay for the 2022 season, there’s still 2023 and 2024, seasons in which the Braves will be paying Ozuna $18MM/yearly. There’s an option for 2025 with a $1MM buyout, of which I’m sure the Braves will buy it out.
Been Here…Done This
Unfortunately, the Braves have been down this road before. In April of 2016, after making one of the most erroneous trades in Braves history, Hector Olivera beat a woman in a hotel and was arrested for assault and battery. After serving an 82-game suspension, the Braves swung a deal to rid themselves of the taint, acquiring Matt Kemp from the Padres. The Padres immediately DFA’d Olivera.
Fast forward a year and half, Alex Anthopoulos is looking to consolidate funds and the Dodgers are looking to spread them out, so the Braves sent Matt Kemp and his two-year salary to the Dodgers in exchange for Adrian Gonzalez, Brandon McCarthy, Scott Kazmir, and Charlie Culberson (who would’ve ever guessed that Culberson would go down as the most valuable acquisition that day?). Gonzalez was immediately released, McCarthy was bad, Kazmir never pitched, and Culberson became a Braves folk hero. Put simply, bad contract swaps are messy and hard to pull off, but the Braves and Dodgers made it happen once… Could they do it again?
Make no mistake, the Braves want to get out from under Marcell Ozuna’s contract. I think they’ll at least get out of 1/2 of the 2022 money, but teams these days cannot afford the PR backlash that comes with employing a domestic abuser. The Dodgers, on the other hand, don’t have a domestic abuser but do have a salary they’d desperately like to shed.
David Price was a dominant pitcher for a decade, finishing with one CY award and two runner ups. His time with the Dodgers has been less than rosy and I’m sure, like the Braves with Ozuna, the Dodgers would like to get out from his $32MM salary for 2022.
If the Dodgers and Braves want to discuss this trade, there won’t be real impact players involved, rather it would be more about the money. The Dodgers would have motivation to do this trade as anything that would open up their payroll for 2022 would be a win and this would definitely do it. Still, balance is key. Here’s the proposal:
Braves get David Price
Dodgers get Marcell Ozuna, William Woods, and $2MM in 2023 and 2024
Breakdown: Price becomes the one-year deal the Braves were looking for in a starter, and the Dodgers DFA Ozuna, opening up payroll by $14MM for the 2022 season, which they desperately need.
Thoughts on this? Have another idea? Let’s hear it! Be sure to check out my Twitter account @baldheaded1der.