What’s next for the Braves after the Marcell Ozuna signing?

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The Braves finally broke their nearly three months of silence last night, inking Marcell Ozuna to a four-year, $65 million contract with a fifth-year option. It’s the largest contract Alex Anthopoulos has handed out to a free-agent since becoming the general manager in Atlanta and solidifies the Braves lineup for years to come, but he isn’t done yet.

The Braves still have some holes to fill, and they have the money to do it. Ozuna will earn an average of $16 million annually on his new contract, but he will only make $12 million in 2021, leaving some room for the Braves to maneuver.

Last year, Atlanta had their highest Opening Day payroll in franchise history at over $150 million (before pro-rated salaries were enforced). Currently, they sit under $130 million heading into the 2021 season. Now, COVID-19 could play a role, giving Alex Anthopoulos a much tighter budget than last season, but judging by the makeup of the current roster, I expect this year’s Opening Day payroll to be very similar to 2020’s.

So what will Anthopoulos spend that money on?

For starters, the Braves need to severely upgrade their bench. They must add a backup catcher, and Tyler Flowers is still out there as a free-agent. I wouldn’t mind bringing him back at all. William Contreras was stellar in a small sample size last season, but he still needs some time to polish his game in AAA. Atlanta should also be looking for a fourth outfielder, and just like Flowers, Adam Duvall remains available. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he returned unless he’s looking for a place where he can be an everyday player. Those signings make the most sense, but at the very least expect the Braves to announce some smaller additions to help improve their bench in the coming days.

Atlanta could also use at least one more bullpen arm. As I’ve mentioned several times this offseason — with Drew Smyly and Charlie Morton in the fold — the Braves have a ton of relief options. However, they don’t have many that can be trusted with the game on the line. Bringing back a guy like Mark Melancon, Shane Greene, or both should be a top priority after the Ozuna signings.

I will also not count out another substantial splash. If the Braves are willing to reach their Opening Day payroll from last season, or even exceed it, they have enough room to upgrade at third base. They’ve been linked to Justin Turner, and even though that feels like a pipe dream, Turner and the Dodgers appear to be at a stalemate in contract negotiations. There are still several third baseman the Braves could target in a trade as well like Jose Ramirez or Kris Bryant.

It has been a painfully slow offseason, but after the Ozuna signing, I don’t know how anyone could be anything but enthusiastic entering the 2021 season. Atlanta now has a revamped rotation that can rival any in baseball, and they signed the one piece needed to ensure that their offense will be as potent as last year’s. Now, all they have to do is round out the roster, and they should be in perfect shape to repeat as NL East champions for the fourth straight year.

1 thought on “What’s next for the Braves after the Marcell Ozuna signing?”

  1. Pingback: What's next for the Braves after the Marcell Ozuna signing? - sportstalkatl.com - Fiji Online News

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