Nov. 23: Ozuna’s decision stemmed from frustration over a lack of early offers received, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports. Now-former agent Melvin Roman was expecting the Braves to make their first multi-year proposal in December, per Rosenthal, but no team had submitted a formal offer to this point.
If timing was indeed the root of the issue for Ozuna, it’s worth wondering whether his new agents will push for a quick end to his free agency. Ozuna, after all, lingered on the market into late January last year. While we often lose sight of the human elements of free agency, it’s surely a stressful process to wait for offers to pour in while seeing your peers sign contracts. Not knowing where you and your family will be residing during the upcoming season is undoubtedly nerve-wracking. It would be wholly understandable if Ozuna had zero interest in a second consecutive winter of prolonging his decision into the New Year.
Of course, whether that’s the best course of action is debatable. Earlier deals have a tendency to be strong ones for the player, but there’s still some uncertainty as to whether the designated hitter will be in place in the National League next year. That uncertainty will reportedly prompt Nelson Cruz to wait for clarity, and Ozuna’s market would similarly be enhanced by the implementation of a universal DH in 2021.
Nov. 22: Outfielder Marcell Ozuna has changed his representation for his latest trip through the free agent market, as Ozuna is now represented by CAA Sports. The agency announced the news on its Twitter feed.
We’ve already heard of widespread interest in Ozuna in free agency, with the Braves and Mets cited as just two of many teams checking in on the slugger’s services. Naturally, it isn’t any surprise that Ozuna is generating such buzz in the wake of an outstanding season that saw him finish sixth in NL MVP voting. Ozuna hit .338/.431/.636 over 267 plate appearances with the Braves in 2020, topping the National League in home runs (18), RBI (56) and total bases (145).
Though 2020 was a shortened season, Ozuna will head into free agency on the heels of a much better platform year than he did last winter. He posted solid (.241/.328/.472, 29 homers in 549 PA) but not top-tier numbers with the Cardinals in 2019, and also was attached to draft pick compensation after rejecting the Cards’ qualifying offer. Ozuna chose to bet on himself in the form of a one-year, $18MM deal with Atlanta rather than accept other multi-year offers that were on the table — a decision that now looks pretty wise in the wake of his big 2020 campaign. MLBTR projects Ozuna to land a four-year, $72MM contract this offseason, ranking him fourth on our list of the winter’s top 50 free agents.
CAA represents enough players on enough teams that is difficult to gauge whether Ozuna’s agency change could hint at his next landing spot. For what it’s worth, Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos completed a notable free agent deal with a CAA client just a year ago, when Atlanta inked left-hander Will Smith to a three-year, $40MM pact.
For all more info on player representation, check out MLBTR’s Agency Database for an extensive listing.