Marcell Ozuna signs with Atlanta Braves on one-year, $18 million contract

The Braves have agreed to terms with free-agent outfielder Marcell Ozuna on a one-year contract worth $18 million, the team announced Tuesday

Ozuna, 29, is coming off a 2019 season in which he put up an OPS+ of 107 for the Cardinals with 29 home runs in 130 games. For his career, Ozuna owns a slash line of .272/.329/.455 with 148 home runs and 162 doubles across parts of seven major league seasons with the Marlins and Cardinals. We ranked him as the 13th-best free agent on the market this winter, and he was the top unsigned player on our list after Josh Donaldson inked with the Twins last week.

The Braves no doubt will be hoping Ozuna can rediscover his peak of 2017, when he cracked 37 home runs and put up an OPS+ of 149 in his final season in Miami. Ozuna these days is an average or thereabouts defender in left field with surprising speed on the bases. He figures to provide the Braves' some of the right-handed power that went with Donaldson when he signed with Minnesota. Ozuna figures to benefit in going from pitcher-friendly Busch Stadium to the hitter's haven that is Truist Park in Atlanta. 

The move does give the Braves a somewhat crowded outfield situation. Young superstar Ronald Acuna Jr. will be the fixture in center, and Nick Markakis and Adam Duvall figure to platoon in right. Assuming Ozuna is the regular in left, that leaves Ender Inciarte on the bench and Charlie Culberson confined mostly to infield duty. The 26th active roster spot that's in effect starting in 2020 will help matters somewhat. 

As for Ozuna, he obviously didn't get the multi-year offer he was seeking, but this one-year "pillow" contract will allow him to re-enter a thinner free-agent market next offseason, possibly with increased value. Because of the small value of this contract, the Cardinals will not receive a compensation pick even though Ozuna turned down their $17.8 million qualifying offer. The Braves, however, will give up a pick for the right to sign Ozuna. Ozuna, in turn, will be ineligible to receive a qualifying offer in advance of next offseason.

The loss of Ozuna clears a path for regular playing time for a young outfielder in St. Louis. Tyler O'Neill and top prospect Dylan Carlson are the leading candidates to replace Ozuna in left. 

CBS Sports Writer

Dayn Perry has been a baseball writer for CBS Sports since early 2012. Prior to that, he wrote for FOXSports.com and ESPN.com. He's the author of three books, the most recent being Reggie Jackson: The... Full Bio

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