Marcell Ozuna is unsurprisingly drawing a lot of early attention in free agency, as MLB Network’s Jon Heyman (Twitter link) reports that the Braves and at least nine other teams have already shown interest in the slugger. The list of suitors includes teams from both the National and American League, despite uncertainty about whether or not the DH will be available to NL teams next season. Of course, Ozuna isn’t yet a full-time designated hitter at this point in his career, as he played 21 of his 60 games as a corner outfielder in 2020, but teams would undoubtedly prefer the security blanket of a DH spot for Ozuna over the course of a multi-year deal.
Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos has mostly preferred to invest in pricey one-year contracts for veteran players (including Josh Donaldson, Dallas Keuchel, and Ozuna himself) in free agency, though Atlanta signed Will Smith to a three-year, $39MM deal last offseason. Ozuna’s next deal might be worth almost twice as much as it took to land Smith, but considering how Atlanta expects to be contending for the World Series, making the big investment to re-sign Ozuna might be deemed as worthwhile from the Braves’ perspective.
Some more from around the NL East…
- The White Sox hiring Tony La Russa as their next manager was a controversial hire for many reasons, including the fact that La Russa hasn’t managed a big league game since 2011. However, La Russa did receive consideration for a managerial opening just last winter, as Jon Heyman (in a radio interview on WFAN’s Moose and Maggie show) said the Mets interviewed La Russa about potentially replacing Mickey Callaway. “Nothing came of” the talks and La Russa wasn’t extended an offer, as the Mets went to hire Carlos Beltran.
- The Nationals seem likely to take a “middle of the pack” approach to spending this winter, The Athletic’s Brittany Ghiroli opines, operating as neither “big spenders or big savers” in the wake of revenue losses from the 2020 season. Washington has over $161MM in projected payroll for the 2021 campaign, and though a lot of that is scheduled to come off the books next winter (most notably Max Scherzer’s salary), one would imagine the Nats might want to earmark some of those savings for possible extensions for Trea Turner and Juan Soto. Ghiroli feels the Nationals will be active in free agency to some degree but doesn’t expect any splashy signings.
- The Phillies are in their second round of interviews as they search for a new pitching coach, NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury writes. There isn’t much known about the Phils’ search thus far, though Salisbury lists three of the candidates who were interviewed in the first round — two internal names in assistant pitching coach Dave Lundquist and minor league pitching coordinator Rafael Chaves, plus one name from outside the organization in Reds assistant pitching coach and director of pitching Caleb Cotham. It isn’t known if any of Lundquist, Chaves, or Cotham advanced to the second-interview stage. [UPDATE: Cotham has interviewed with two different teams, Reds GM Nick Krall told C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic.)
Nothing inspiring with any of those options. Where is Mike Harkey?
I think the Reds assistant pitching coach and director of pitching is a very inspiring option. Those guys are the forerunners of incorporating Driveline into their program and have come a long way with sport science to enhance pitching performance from a sabermetric approach.
That’s awesome and so right lol
Washington will definitely want to lock up Soto if at all possible. The Scherzer deal has been solid for them. Best big time pitching free agent signing I can think of.
One of the only big time pitching contract that turned out good that I can think of
Greg Maddux turned out to be pretty good for the Braves.
It’s really one of the few long-term pitching deals that worked out. Great move by the Nats.
Randy Johnson is this only other one that lived up to that kind of a free agent deal as a pitcher that I can think of.
Roger Clemens in Toronto.
stan lee the manly
I would put CC Sabathia on that list as well. Not as well as Scherzer, but I think the Yankees make that deal again if offered a redo.
Ditto Lester. The Cubs would do that one again in a heartbeat.
Sabathia missing most of 2014, posting a 4.78 ERA in 2013, and a 4.73 ERA in 2015, and pitching 153 or less inning his final 3 years, that’s a successful contract?
Jake Arietta. /sarc
Everyone can throw in another big time pitching contract, but it’s only been Scherzer that has been a Cy Young contender ever year of his contract. *knock on wood* I cannot say the same for others.
If we ignore this season, that is.
Scherzer was a Cy Young contender this year? That’s news to me…
Tight Pants Tony LaRussa is in the right spot. Right where he belongs.
Now is the time for the Nats to trade Scherzer. He has great value and a team like the Yankees would be willing to pay. Long term this would really help the Nats.
He’s 36, coming off a mediocre year (for him), has only one year remaining on his deal, and is owed $34M in 2021. That won’t net the Nats much from any team.
The Nationals plan to compete in 2021. They’ll hold Scherzer. Peak Scherzer is likely in the rear-view mirror, but good chance he still is very good next season.
old dodger fan
If the Nats really believe Strasburg will be back healthy next year they should hold on to Scherzer and make another go of it. If Strasburg is not fully recovered I don’t see them being a contender even with Scherzer and they ought to get what they can even if it’s just the money to extend Soto and Turner.
Plus the Nats are on the hook for many more dollars for many more year’s
Sherzer has been amazing but how good does a pitcher have to be to be worth the $34 million he will be paid next season? Nobody is trading for Sherzer hoping they will get one last ace like campaign. The money is too big in this insane market.
Is Ozuna’s defense that bad? I know he played a lot of DH this season, but he was coming off an arm injury. I am not steeped in advanced defensive metrics, but his UZR has been positive every year but this one.
UZR has some reliance on errors, and many times ballpark scorekeepers do not call errors. Plus UZR does not measure route running, and Ozuna is an awful route runner. His fence jumping on balls falling short of the warning track is quite funny and somewhat legendary.
Yeah, man, he’s pretty bad in the outfield. I’m a diehard Braves fan and watched just about every game. Ozuna doesn’t get good reads on balls hit to the outfield, and he takes really odd routes getting to the ball. That said, I still hope the Braves re-sign him, with or without the DH.
Ozuna will not sign until after January 2021, and it could be a long time after.
Ozuna looks very bad defensively ever since he left Miama
. Any team that signs him that is in NL will regret it if there is no DH. He will problem suck no matter where he goes.
He’s also coming off an offense output he’s unlikely to ever come close to duplicating
Would love to see Ozuna in Ranger Blue. Nats not trading SChertzer.
Mets got lucky there
Even a horse finds water.
I don’t think that’s an expression
Well, don’t count your chickens before you cross the bridge!
I think the expression he wanted to say is something like: even a blind squirrel finds an eggcorn every now and then.
You can lead a blind squirrel to water under the bridge, but you can’t make him drink eggcorns.
How about ‘You can lead a horse to water but a pencil has to be led”?
Braves need that trophy soon
not likely braves will not win in 2021, The poor defense, bad base running really show up in playoffs.
So they will win in 2021. Awesome news to hear as a Braves fan.
Bad defense? They had the best infield defense in the league and had 3 different Gold Glove winning Outfielders to choose from. Max Fried won a Gold Glove this year and Pache who everyone compares to Andruw Jones – including Andruw Jones will be in Center this year. So yeah, bad defense. Clown comment bro.
things like that happen to a lot of good teams and players
not likely Atlanta see,s any trophy in the near future.
The Phillies also may be in their second round round for a pitching coach but I believe they are disastrously headed for their second rebuild without even getting out of their first. Who makes a trade for a star position player, giving up their best prospect and not have an extension in place? They are now dangerously close to losing Realmuto. If they should lose him start over again. Trade Nola and hope you can get some pieces back.
Yeah this rebuild has been a disaster for the Phillies so far. I feel bad for Bryce Harper, as he’s going to waste his prime on a team that doesn’t really have a path to being competitive.
I think they’re closer than it appears and our view is kind of distorted because of how historically bad their bullpen was last year. Take that awful bullpen out of the equation last year and they’re probably over .500, not under it.
If they can find a way to field a league average bullpen, re-sign Realmuto, and find a good SS, then they’re probably competitive. I’m not saying thats easy to do, but they do have a path. The starting rotation and offense aren’t elite, but they are in the top half of the league so with bullpen help they could be the running for a playoff spot.
I think, in the end, Harper’s overpriced contract is gonna hold them back from building a winning team as much as anything. I don’t feel bad for him at all. He got what he wanted already.
The Phillies went for it too early. They need to build up the farm system more. Good teams have good farm systems. I don’t feel sorry for Bryce Harper. He went for the money He should of signed with a good team.
They will never get value for Nola. Klentak should never work again but alas he will.
Maybe the Phils should look more closely at ex-players than notebook toting computer guys? I truly feel the game is missing and getting further away from the instincts, gut feelings and connections that former players can offer. Going with poor pitchers because “the book says so” in favor of pulling effective pitchers already in the game is probably killing more arms and costing teams more wins than helping.
Just don’t see the Braves paying Ozuna 75 to 80 million , he certainly is a big reason Freeman had such a big season, shortened or not.
My guess is with Soroka healthy we will see the team trying to win with pitching and defense and less power.
I would like seeing Joc Pederson added but not counting on it.
Actually – I potentially can see the Braves giving Ozuna a 3 to 4 year contract. I did not with Donaldson due to age and injury history, however the DH is coming to the NL – (I am not in love with the idea but it will be here) – if not for 2021 then for 2022. Ozuna normally has decent offensive output every season except for 2019. I still think he can be a 28 – 34 HR a year guy with a decent average. His defense??? Meh as they say, however not the worst. He can work on that during the offseason and when the DH comes to the NL we are set. (I only put in “we” as I have 100 shares of Braves Liberty stock). Liberty did lose money on the team last year like everyone else, but they are a solid company and can afford to pony up the $$$ for Ozuna, extend Freeman to his age 35 season, and get a Veteran Pitcher for a one year deal to help the young pitching staff. Then again what do I know about Baseball? I did Pitch when I was younger but I sing for a living (literally that is what I do) so your guess is as good as mine on what Liberty does with the Braves this off-season.
Twins could use their Nelson Cruz money on Ozuna.
I wonder if the White Sox brass knew LaRussa was a runner up to Carlos Beltran when they made their decision? Just puts in perspective how bad both hiring decisions have been.
Beltran did not get a chance to manage the team so you really can-not say how “bad” he was. He was involved with a cheating scandal – strange as the other Managers were hired again after their year. Someone should give Beltran a chance.
“Washington has over $161MM in projected payroll for the 2021 campaign, and though a lot of that is scheduled to come off the books next winter (most notably Max Scherzer’s salary)”
Who ever is writing this is clueless, Nat’s will be paying Scherzer $15mil a year for the next 7 years after his contract expires as the Nats deferred a ton of money when signing him, so there is no money coming off the books on Scherzer’s behalf till after the 2028 season.