37 times in 1982, he took one last puff on his Marlboro, extinguished the cig on the bench, exited the dugout, made his way to the on-deck circle, then to the plate, and sent a ball into orbit. 156 times, he carried the same routine, he struck out. Luckily, the walk to a fresh cig was 360 feet shorter. 59 times he walked. All in all, 37 home runs didn’t amount to much as he only carried a .717 OPS and a 0.1 WAR. This player isn’t Marcell Ozuna, but Marcell is doing his best to imitate Dave Kingman while donning a Braves uniform…minus the cigs.
Ozuna has went deep 17 times, which is quite impressive considering that his OPS sits right at .700. Of players that have more than 200 PAs as DH, only Miguel Cabrera, Nelson Cruz, Franmil Reyes, and Mike Moustakas have worse results. However, Ozuna stands as the only player (whom DH is primary position) with 200 PAs or more on a team with a winning record to have an OPS of .700 or less. It might get better, but Ozuna’s contract is a problem. However, is it a problem that the Braves can absorb? With a record setting 2021 and a bopping Truist Park that could exceed 3 million fans in 2022, could the Braves absorb some of Ozuna’s cost and rid themselves of this nightmare? Probably not, but I’ll try to find some scenarios.
About$45MM. That’s how much the Braves owe Marcell Ozuna through the 2025 season. For a player worth nothing, that’s hard to hide in a transaction. The Braves would have to add to the deal, both in money and in players, in order to make it work, unless there’s another equally bad contract out there. In researching the largest contracts currently in the MLB, it takes awhile to get to a player not pulling his own and/or the team willing to deal said player.
I went through Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, Francisco Lindor, Fernando Tatis Jr., Bryce Harper, Giancarlo Stanton, Corey Seager, Gerrit Cole, Manny Machado, Nolan Arenado, Stephen Strasburg, and Anthony Rendon before I got to the first interesting name and the floodgates opened. Seriously…how can GMs be this dumb? While the bad contract swap is, for the most part, a pipe dream, the Braves are in a window, have no need for Ozuna, and could take a swing at a struggling pitcher to bring back to former glory.
Here are some names that piqued my interest..
The Ever-Sought After, Rarely Done Bad Contract Swap
- Joey Votto: Having a bad year. Doesn’t make much sense considering Braves just traded for Matt Olson. Could Olson and Votto share DH/1B duties? I think the Reds are open to trading everyone…except Votto.
- Jason Heyward: Heyward is beyond bad this year and has been for 1/2 a decade. Still, his contract would be up after 2023 which would consolidate funds and the Cubs would be taking a $5MM gamble that Ozuna could rebound. Cubs would have to add to this deal.
- Charlie Blackmon: Blackmon is owed $40MM between this year and next and is beloved in Colorado. Still, his value has plummeted and if the Rockies were to ever consider trading him, what better place to send a Georgia boy? The Braves would have to sweeten this deal.
- Madison Bumgarner- One of my least liked players in the MLB, but if he could make Ozuna in a Braves uniform end, I’d be down. Bumgarner is owed about $48MM for the rest of his contract so Braves would have to add a good bit to make this deal.
- Jon Gray: I’ve always liked Gray and thought he’d be a good pitcher in Atlanta. He’s about a 4 ERA guy in Texas and that would suit the Braves well. The $ would be about even, so the Braves would have to sweeten the deal, a lot.
- The Votto deal doesn’t make sense. Not sure why I typed it. It would be fun, but the Reds front office cannot afford to lose their face.
- The Cubs deal could be something to get behind. Heyward would likely be cut after the 2022 season, but could be a part of the team during another division/World Series run. I could see something like Kyle Muller and Marcell Ozuna for Jason Heyward and Ian Happ.
- Like the Votto deal, Blackmon is the face of the Rockies. However, the Braves could be the one place that Blackmon could get behind. The Rockies always need pitching and the Braves have it in the farm.
- The Diamondbacks don’t need Bumgarner. They need pitching prospects. The Braves could unclog the pipeline a bit and send them a few.
- The Rangers likely won’t deal Gray, but if they were offered a big Texan like Kyle Muller and a few other SPs, they could be enticed.
What’s realistic? Likely none of them. The one that feels most doable is the Cubs trade, followed closely by the Diamondbacks deal. Thoughts?