Outfielder Marcell Ozuna returns to Atlanta Braves on four-year deal

The Atlanta Braves are bringing back Marcell Ozuna, signing the slugger to a four-year, $64 million deal.

The Braves revealed the deal for the 2020 National League home run and RBI leader on Friday night, less than two weeks before pitchers and catchers are set to report for spring training. The contract contains a fifth-year club option for $16 million that would take it to $80 million with a $1 million buyout, which would yield Ozuna $65 million in guaranteed money.

The Braves made the major commitment to Ozuna despite having no assurance there will be a designated hitter in the NL in 2021. He flourished in the role in 2020, helping the Braves win the NL East and come within one victory of advancing to the World Series. The Braves lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 7 of the NL Championship Series after leading the series 3-1.

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Ozuna’s value to the team, in the clubhouse and as lineup protection for 2020 NL MVP Freddie Freeman, was crucial to the team’s hopes of winning a fourth consecutive NL East title and making another run for the World Series.

Ozuna, who has played with three teams over the past four seasons, stated he was glad to settle down in Atlanta.

“Since I was a kid I would dream about this day,” he wrote on his Instagram account. “The day that I could call a place home. Through ups and downs I’ve maintained my faith in this moment. Today I can officially say I’M BACK!!”

Before joining the Braves, Ozuna spent two seasons with the Cardinals, protecting Paul Goldschmidt in the lineup as they made it back to the playoffs in 2019. Over the past five seasons, including the 60-game season in 2020, Ozuna has hit 130 home runs, making two All-Star Games on the strength of his bat.

Since the start of the 2017 season, Ozuna has 357 RBIs, second only to the Rockies’ Nolan Arenado (384) and just ahead of Freeman (343) among National League players, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

In eight MLB seasons, he has a .276 batting average with 166 home runs, 594 RBIs and 505 runs scored for the Marlins, Cardinals and Braves.

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