When Alex Anthopoulos initially inked Marcell Ozuna to a four-year contract extension, Braves Country was elated.
The Big Bear was coming off a 2020 campaign where he nearly won the triple crown, finishing sixth in the NL MVP race. He hit .338 with 18 homers and 56 RBIs in just 60 games, ending the season with an OPS over 1.000. It was another Anthopoulos masterclass in free agency, or so we thought.
After inking that $65 million extension, Ozuna quickly became one of the worst contracts in the league. He was arrested for domestic violence in May of 2021, ending his season, and he came back in 2022 looking like a shell of himself. It was so bad, the Braves even tried to offload him to the Nationals, and they said no!
Braves reportedly tried to trade Marcell Ozuna to the Nationals, and were even willing to take on the contract of Patrick Corbin https://t.co/4taJObiEAS
— SportsTalkATL.com (@SportsTalkATL) October 27, 2022
Think about that for a second. The Washington Nationals wouldn’t trade Patrick Corbin, who had an ERA north of six, and his $30 million a year contract for Marcell Ozuna.
The Big Bear had effectively become untradeable, and it almost seemed like a foregone conclusion that he would eventually be designated for assignment, especially with how he began the 2023 campaign. By the end of April, Ozuna had just five hits. He was hitting .085, and there wasn’t a ballpark in America where he wasn’t met with boos every time he stepped into the batter’s box. It had gotten to the point where you almost felt bad for the guy, and now… it’s not even ridiculous to say he’s the best offensive player on the Braves.
I mean, it sounds absurd when talking about a lineup featuring Ronald Acuna Jr., Austin Riley, Ozzie Albies, and Matt Olson — but is it really? Check out these numbers from Ozuna since the start of May:
- .297 batting average
- 28 homers
- 71 RBIs
- .947 OPs
Ozuna isn’t just producing. He’s producing at an MVP level, and he’s been doing this over a four-month period.
The Big Bear is B-A-C-K, and as I always like to say, sometimes the best trades are the ones that never come to fruition. The Braves were literally willing to pay millions of dollars for someone to take Marcell Ozuna off their hands. Nobody would, and it’s just another situation that has worked out for the better. That seems to happen a lot to this organization, doesn’t it?
Photo: John Adams/Icon Sportswire