Perhaps one of the largest and most “slept on” free agent signings of the 2020 offseason was the Atlanta Braves signing of outfielder Marcell Ozuna. The “Big Bear” signed a one-year, $18 million contract to come to Atlanta in late January. This contract was very similar to the one-year, $23 million that brought third baseman, Josh Donaldson, to Atlanta for the 2019 season. This contract helped Donaldson to have a rejuvenated season in Atlanta and in result, he signed a mega 4-year, $92 million deal with the Twins this offseason. That poses the question after the season that Ozuna has had this year with the Braves: Will “The Big Bear” stay or will he go?
There is no denying it, Ozuna had a huge regular season; yes, it was a 60 game season, yes, there were some players who opted out and yes, baseball games were being played under peculiar rules.
The National League has a designated hitter for the first time in the history of baseball. Doubleheaders are only seven innings apiece. In extra innings, a runner starts on second. However, despite all of this, Marcell Ozuna still had an impressive season. In the shortened 60 game season, Ozuna finished the 2020 regular season with a .338 batting average, 18 home runs, 56 runs batted in, 77 hits and a 2.3 WAR. Ozuna won the National League home run race, and he also finished as the National League leader in runs batted in.
To give more context here on Ozuna’s 60 game season stats, if the MLB had played a 162 game season this season, Ozuna would have had 208 hits, 49 home runs and 151 RBIs. Ozuna continues to impress; however, is this good or bad for Braves fans? Obviously it is positive that Ozuna is producing for Atlanta, unless you are not a Braves fan. And yes, Ozuna contributed to the Braves’ second seed in the National League playoff;. he and teammate, Freddie Freeman, are two of the top candidates for NL MVP right now. However, the way he played in the 2020 regular season could lead to his departure for a bigger contract, a better team and the single-season wonder of the Big Bear will fall into cracks of other great remarkable seasons.
The Braves and the city of Atlanta need Marcell Ozuna and Marcell Ozuna needs us. He needs the fans, he needs the Braves, he needs the money and he needs the recognition from the rest of the league right now. But, how much longer will this last? The Braves should pursue the Big Bear this offseason and give him a well-earned pay day.