Ozuna could see significant action at designated hitter if the universal DH is part of a shortened MLB season, Gabriel Burns of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. While Austin Riley is viewed as the likely top option to DH, Ozuna's somewhat shaky defense in left field could make Atlanta consider him for the spot as well. With veterans Nick Markakis and Adam Duvall on the bench, and top prospects Drew Waters and Cristian Pache potentially part of a taxi squad if the minor-league season is canceled, the roster would have plenty of outfield depth to cover any potential shift to DH for Ozuna.
Ozuna was having a rough spring at the plate when MLB was put on pause, hitting .083 (2-for-24) with no extra-base hits and a 1:12 BB:K. If he were a kid trying to crack the roster for the first time that kind of performance would be worrisome, but Ozuna's track record suggests it was just a matter of time before he found his rhythm, although the interruption in the schedule could reset that clock back to zero. After slugging at least 23 homers in four straight years, the 29-year-old is set to hold down a spot in the heart of Atlanta's batting order once the regular season finally begins.
Ozuna agreed to a one-year, $18 million deal with the Braves on Tuesday, Jeff Passan of ESPN.com reports. Ozuna will join his third organization after recording .241/.328/.472 slash line with 29 homers and 89 RBI in 130 games with the Cardinals in 2019. The veteran outfielder is still considered one of the league's premier power hitters after averaging 30 home runs and 100 RBI over the past three years. Ozuna figures to slot into the cleanup spot following the departure of Josh Donaldson, while the Braves plan to use him as their everyday left fielder, per David O'Brien of The Athletic.
Ozuna will not accept the Cardinals' qualifying offer, Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports. Ozuna isn't at the same elite level as some players who were tendered qualifying offers, but he's evidently generating enough interest around the league that he won't have to settle for the one-year deal. Per Heyman's report, seven teams, including the Cardinals, have talked to the outfielder about a multi-year deal.
Ozuna was given a qualifying offer by the Cardinals on Monday, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports. The draft-pick penalty which will now be attached to Ozuna could potentially compel him to accept the offer. He's a good hitter but not an elite one, having posted a wRC+ above 110 just once in the last five seasons, so teams could be hesitant to give up a pick to sign him to a long-term deal heading into his age-29 season.