Atlanta Braves should follow Arizona’s Lead and DFA Marcell Ozuna Now
By Fred Owens
The Atlanta Braves saw Marcell Ozuna bat .338/.431/.636/1.067 and presumably had a metric that convinced them to sign him to a four-year, $65M contract. His contract was a bad deal that became an albatross around the team’s neck.
There’s no point rehashing the red flags in Ozuna’s career to figure out why the team decided to throw so much money as a streaky hitter with questionable defensive ability.
Atlanta Braves Disappointing Contracts
Dan Uggla’s decline was more of a four-year slide down a muddy hillside. B.J. Upton’s decline began in Tampa during 2012, but his overall line looked better because he surged in August and September.
Upton’s two years in Atlanta produced a lower final line, and his contract was arguably as bad as Ozuna’s, but his value as a defender was enough for multiple teams to trade for him.
Whatever the analytics crew projected for Ozuna, we’ve seen a player who fell off the metaphorical cliff like Wylie Coyote on his worst day.
Since signing the deal, he’s batted .213/.273/.385/.658, a line supported by season’s .226/.274/.413/.687. When Ozuna hits the ball, his exit velocity, hard-hit percentage, and barrel rate are above average, but he doesn’t connect often enough for it to matter, and it’s time to move on.
Addition By Subtraction
On Thursday, the Diamondbacks admitted their mistake and designated Giants World Series hero Madison Bumgarner for assignment, swallowing the remaining $34.3M on his contract. It’s time for the Atlanta Braves to grab a bottle of Louisiana Hot Sauce and do the same with the $35,5M on Ozuna’s contract.
No team will take on Ozuna’s contract, so he’ll clear waivers. As a veteran, he has the right to refuse assignment and become a free agent, but I’d advise against that. His career is so badly damaged that he has to prove he can hit before any team takes a flyer on him, even at league-minimum pay.