Time for the Braves to consider a Marcell Ozuna contract extension?

dkb221001041 nym vs atl

Questions surrounding the Braves pitching staff have arisen over the last week. Mainly, because Spencer Strider is expected to undergo Tommy John surgery and miss the rest of the season, but the bullpen also showed some of its flaws in the series against the Mets. Thankfully, it’s only April. The Braves have a lot of time to work out the kinks before things really start to matter, but one thing they don’t have to worry about is the offense.

The Braves have picked up right where they left off in 2023 (postseason not included). Several players are off to torrid starts, but none are hotter than Marcell Ozuna.

I’m not quite sure I’ve seen a turnaround as drastic as the one we’ve witnessed over the last calendar year with the Big Bear. In April of 2023, he was undoubtedly the most despised figure in Atlanta sports. A rain of boos met him every time he stepped into the batter’s box at Truist Park, thanks to his off-the-field issues combined with dismal production on the field.

Braves fans were counting down the days until the team announced he was designated for assignment, and I even have to admit, I was shocked he made it as far as he did. By the end of April, Marcell Ozuna was hitting .086 and had lost his starting job. It seemed like just a matter of time before he was released. But it’s a credit to two things, the Braves’ stubbornness to hang on for dear life while they were getting dragged by the public and the person Marcell Ozuna was behind the scenes.

Despite multiple arrests, which he’ll have to live with for the rest of his life, there was a consistent theme surrounding Ozuna in the clubhouse, and it was that of a fantastic teammate. He showed up to work, worked excessively hard to fix what was going wrong with his swing, and did it with a smile on his face, encouraging teammates and offering advice at every turn.

That’s why the Braves stuck with him, a move that has paid off in spades. From May of last year to the end of the season, Ozuna hit .297 with 38 homers and 98 RBIs, capping off his first-ever 40-home-run season, and he’s begun 2024 even hotter. The Big Bear has hit safely in 10 straight games and already has five homers on the young season. But perhaps more importantly, the glowing reviews from his teammates continue to flow in.

I can’t even believe I’m about to write this sentence after where things were less than a year ago, but it might really be time to consider handing Marcell Ozuna an extension.

It wouldn’t be anything drastic, more of a reward for his hard work. A lot like what the Braves have done with Charlie Morton and Travis d’Arnaud. Like those two, Ozuna has a team option for 2025. The Braves could guarantee that and add another team option in 2026. It’s not much, and there is a risk if Ozuna goes through another lengthy funk as the season progresses, but at this point, it’s difficult to imagine this Braves team without Ozuna on it in 2025.

Photo: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

Scroll to Top
%d bloggers like this: