The Braves are interested in free-agent outfielder Marcell Ozuna, Jon Morosi of MLB.com tweets. This isn’t the first connection between the sides, as Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported last month that the Braves were one of the clubs in on Ozuna. Now, though, it seems the Braves are willing to aggressively pursue the 29-year-old qualifying offer recipient. In the event third baseman Josh Donaldson leaves Atlanta for another team, the Braves would regard Ozuna as a viable fallback option, Morosi suggests. MLBTR predicts Ozuna will reel in a three-year, $45MM guarantee, and if he lands anywhere near that neighborhood, he should fall well short of Donaldson’s next contract. That said, replacing Donaldson’s bat with Ozuna’s would still leave a sizable hole at third base for the Braves.
Here’s the latest on several other free agents…
- The Angels, Astros, and Rangers are among the organizations with interest in backstop Jason Castro, per MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand (via Twitter). With Yasmani Grandal and Travis d’Arnaud off the market, the 32-year-old Castro could be the best catcher left on the board. The pitch-framing savant’s coming off a strong season in Minnesota, where he batted .232/.332/.435 in 275 plate appearances and earned positive grades in Baseball Prospectus’ Fielding Runs Above Average metric.
- Several teams appear to be in the market for reliever Craig Stammen. The right-hander’s most recent team, the Padres, as well as the Astros, Diamondbacks, Reds, White Sox, Blue Jays and Cardinals have all expressed interest, per Morosi (Twitter links). Stammen, whom MLBTR projects for a two-year, $10MM guarantee, has put together a strong career divided between Washington and San Diego. The 35-year-old logged a 3.29 ERA with 8.01 K/9, 1.65 BB/9 and a 50.8 percent groundball rate in 82 innings last season as a Padre.
- The Reds are one of the teams with interest in Japanese center fielder Shogo Akiyama, president of baseball operations Dick Williams revealed (via Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer). Clubs have until Dec. 19 to sign Akiyama, who had an impressive run with the Seibu Lions from 2011-19. It’s unclear what a potential Reds-Akiyama union would mean for Nick Senzel, their starting center fielder last season. Senzel could perhaps move to the corner outfield, which does look like a need area for the Reds.
- The Cardinals are interested in re-signing backup catcher Matt Wieters, according to general manager Michael Girsch (via Goold). Whether it’s Wieters or someone else, the team seems intent on adding a veteran to play behind Yadier Molina. Wieters could wind up in Oakland if he doesn’t go back to St. Louis, as Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Athletics have shown interest in the 33-year-old to back up Sean Murphy. This is the second straight offseason in which Wieters has landed on the A’s radar.
- The Orioles and Indians are two of the four teams that have shown interest in infielder Jose Peraza, per MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand (via Twitter). The Reds non-tendered Peraza last week on the heels of an unproductive season, but he’s only a year removed from a respectable showing. The 25-year-old’s also controllable via arbitration through 2022.
- Although he hopes to play next season, there has been little interest in outfielder Curtis Granderson, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. The soon-to-be 39-year-old Granderson is a revered clubhouse presence who has enjoyed an outstanding career, but he’s a free agent at an inopportune time. Granderson struggled to a .183/.281/.356 line with minus-1.4 fWAR in 363 plate trips with the Marlins last season.