What will the Braves do with Marcell Ozuna?

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Alex Anthopoulos has misused a lot of money in free agency during his tenure as general manager of the Braves. That’s not an opinion; that’s a fact, which is perfectly fine. No general manager is going to bat 1.000, and Anthopoulos has done far more good than he’s done bad in other areas. Still, there’s a black cloud hanging over this organization from a mistake he made two offseasons ago, signing Marcell Ozuna to a four-year, $65 million contract.

I’m sure there have been worse contracts, but as far as franchise history, this is up there with the worst of all time. Not only has Ozuna been a mess off the field — picking up a domestic violence charge and DUI — but he’s been abysmal on the field as well. In 172 games since re-signing with the Braves, he’s hit just .222 with a .675 OPS, and don’t even get me started on his defense. All this results in -0.9 fWAR over the last two seasons. Combine that with the off-the-field issues and the remaining $33 million left on his contract, and Marcell Ozuna is essentially untradeable.

To be honest, I’m shocked Ozuna has made it this far. I thought for sure the writing was on the wall after his DUI arrest, but I understand the Braves attempting to salvage the situation. Perhaps they believed they could potentially attach a few prospects to his deal this offseason and see if they could dump his contract. I’m sure they will try, but that’s much easier said than done.

Let’s be clear — anybody who is taking on the contract of Marcell Ozuna will almost certainly release him once the trade is complete. He brings no value to the table, on or off the field. So in a trade, the Braves will be asking teams to eat $33 million in salary, unless Atlanta agrees to eat some of the salary themselves to make the deal more palatable, which is a more realistic possibility. Still, to clear a significant amount of the money off the books, it is going to take some pretty good prospects, and I’m not sure that’s something the Braves will be eager to do, given their farm system is already barren.

I’m not saying it’s impossible, but I just don’t see the Braves finding a trade partner for Ozuna unless they eat most of the contract. Either way, I don’t expect him on the team next year. Marcell Ozuna’s days in Atlanta are numbered, whether it’s through trade or release.

Photo: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

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