For years, Braves fans have waited anxiously for Alex Anthopoulos to deal out a multi-year contract to a marquee free-agent. They lost out on Josh Donaldson last offseason, and though that appears — in hindsight — to be a favorable decision, it still cut deep at the time. This winter, the Braves didn’t miss.
As you all know by now, Atlanta inked Marcell Ozuna to a four-year, $65 million contract Friday night, leaving the faces of Braves Country smiling into the weekend after a brutally slow offseason. However, while it took a while for Ozuna to sign, the negotiation process between him and the Braves was quick and painless.
Anthopoulos and Ozuna met with the Atlanta media yesterday to discuss the signing for the first time, and Anthopoulos revealed there was no back and forth. He eventually made Ozuna an offer, and the deal was finished within a day. From MLB.com’s Mark Bowman:
“There was no offer that we moved up or changed,” Anthopoulos said. “It was real quick. It was done in a day. It started in one day and ended in one day. We had stayed in contact. But we didn’t talk contract until a day or two ago.”
Throughout the interview, Ozuna made it overwhelmingly clear that the Braves were always his top choice. Also from Bowman’s piece:
“As soon as the Braves and Alex bring something, I said, ‘Go with them,’” Ozuna said.
Ozuna also said playing in Atlanta last year was the most fun he ever had playing the game.
Marcell Ozuna: "The experience last year was the best of my life… I'm proud to be an Atlanta Brave."
— David O'Brien (@DOBrienATL) February 6, 2021
That’s the underrated part of this deal. People always want to talk about numbers, contracts, and whether the value is appropriate. I think Ozuna at four years, $65 million is an absolute bargain for what it’s worth. However, even if it wasn’t, he might have been worth it because of his clubhouse presence alone.
Ozuna is the bacon to the BLT, with Ozzie Albies and Ronald Acuna being the lettuce and tomato. Those three brought the energy to the clubhouse every day, keeping everyone engaged despite there being no fans in the stands. That kind of impact cannot be understated. The Braves have always had a tight clubhouse, but Ozuna’s presence took it to the next level, and it was most apparent during Atlanta’s postseason run. He belongs with the Braves, and it felt like both sides believed that from the start of the offseason, which led to Ozuna asking why Anthopoulos took so long — playfully, of course.
Marcell Ozuna just jokingly asked Alex Anthopoulos that if the #Braves signed him this week after just one day of negotiations, then why didn't we just do this right after the season ended?
That's a first for me. Good stuff.
— Grant McAuley (@grantmcauley) February 6, 2021
Anthopoulos also ensured that Ozuna will be the Braves starting left fielder — at least, for now.
Alex Anthopoulos: “Marcell is our everyday left fielder” #Braves
— 680 The Fan (@680TheFan) February 6, 2021
Currently, the DH is not going to be in the NL this season, but there’s still hope that can change. Regardless, everyone assumes the DH will be in the NL by 2022, which would allow the Braves to have their outfield of Acuna, Pache, and Waters, while Ozuna focuses on what he does best — mash.
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