Where Do We Go From Here? The Outfield

Braves: Marcell Ozuna has found his swing at the right time

After battling a season long slump that lasted for 2 months, things started to turn for Adam Duvall on June 4th, just 5 games after Michael Harris‘s promotion.

I don’t think that was a coincidence for a Type-1 Diabetic. Center fielders are moving on nearly every play and Duvall likely needed a break.

The Harris Effect

Before Harris’s promotion, Duvall was playing every day in CF and was an excellent defender but carried a horrid .517 OPS. From June 5th until his season ended due to injury, Adam Duvall was unstoppable, hitting for a .965 OPS with 10 HRs in 34 games. The team was 24-9 during that stretch and everything was falling into place.

Down Goes Duvall

When Adam Duvall went down, the flaws of this outfield stood out like Cool Water cologne. If it wasn’t being caught by Michael Harris II in CF, it was finding grass. We all knew that Eddie Rosario gets horrible reads and Marcell Ozuna has the range of Foghorn Leghorn and the arm of Aunt Bea, but Ozuna and Rosario weren’t alone. Ronald Acuna Jr. had his own struggles, and looked fearful of re-injury through most of the season (and rightfully so), making him one of the worst defensive outfielders in the game according to Statcast. With Eddie or Ozuna in left field, the corner OF defense was bottom of the barrel.

So…Where Do We Go From Here?

For the outfield, my Braves offseason begins with Ozuna. He just cannot be on this team. He’s the hair clogging the drain. Things cannot flow naturally and it creates this weird energy where Snitker thinks he has to play him (even though he was perfectly fine never using Charlie Culberson or Ehire Adrianza). My hope is they find a trade partner, attach a couple of pitching prospects, and wash their hands of him. If he’s here, he’ll play and continue clogging up the joint.

From there, I don’t think it necessary to spend big on the outfield. Both Harris and Acuna Jr. will be fine next year and Eddie Rosario will likely be given a chance to show that his eye problems are behind him. Rather than going big on a big OF bat, I’d like to see the real $ spent on a top of the line pitcher and SS.

However, with Rosario in left, that leaves one more need for the OF, especially a RH hitting one, and I really like Adam Duvall as the fit. He’s a great fielder, the team loves him, and he’d fit perfectly in a LF platoon. That should buy Vaughn Grissom enough time to get some OF work and join the Braves in May, playing numerous positions, now that Ozuna’s hairs aren’t clogging the drain.

*Oh Baseball Gods, I Pray to Thee*

But…What if?

If the Braves did go after an outfield bat, there aren’t many great ones on the market. If we’re talking RHHs, the list is really short for players of any impact:

  1. Aaron Judge
  2. Mitch Haniger
  3. Adam Duvall

Judge doesn’t seem like the type of player that AA would spend bucketloads on. Haniger is a good fit offensively, but has been a poor defender for his career. Duvall still seems like the best fit.

Outfield Prospects

If we’re looking toward our farm to fill the RHH left field hole, Justyn-Henry Malloy is where the conversation starts and ends (unless Vaughn Grissom or William Contreras get Winter Ball reps in the OF and prove worthy of the spot). Malloy isn’t great in the field, but his young legs could provide average defense in left and his bat should be more than sufficient if given regular reps.

Jesse Franklin V looked to be on the Michael Harris fast-track after a great 2021 campaign at Rome. Unfortunately, Franklin got KJ’d and underwent the rare position player Tommy John surgery. Hopefully he can make a full recovery and continue his good work in 2023.

Trade Scenario?

I don’t want to delve too deep into fan-fiction, but a friend sent me this over and I found it, at the least, intriguing:

Christian Yelich and cash for Marcell Ozuna

Let’s remove the elephant. Yelich is owed a TON of $. Starting next year through 2028, he will earn $26MM/year. For the Braves to even consider this, the Brewers would have to be willing to pay at least $10MM each of those years. If they did that, the Braves would be looking at Yelich essentially costing them $2MM for both ’23 and ’24, then $16MM/year through 2028.

I still wouldn’t do it, and I think a Rosario/Duvall platoon could outproduce Yelich for a fraction of the cost. Still…it was interesting and if the Brewers would throw more $…nah. Still wouldn’t.

I also floated the idea of Josh Donaldson for Ozuna a month or 2 back. That seems more realistic but still fan-fiction and very unlikely.

Thoughts on the Outfield?

Author: Ryan Cothran

Ryan is the site editor and manager of Braves Journal. Follow him on Twitter.

33 thoughts on “Where Do We Go From Here? The Outfield”

  1. Wow… Foghorn Leghorn and Aunt Bea… Where else on the web can you get that kind of skillset comparison for a player. Well done!

  2. Not that I’d ever really want to see Donaldson in a Braves uni again… but purely as an amusing fantasy experiment, I’d like to see Ozuna sent to The Bronx.

    If anyone could surpass the nightly Joey Gallo-level hate…

  3. Pitcher management questions:

    Robby Thompson just removed Aaron Nola from a 0-0 game in the top of the fifth after the first three batters reached. What are the chances Snitker would do the same in a comparable situation? Thompson brought in Alvarado, roughly the equivalent of Snitker bringing in Iglesias. What are the chances that Snitker would have used his best non-closer in this situation?

    FWIW (and without any judgment about whether or not it’s the right thing to do) I would say Snitker’s chance of making the change there is around 50 percent, and his chance of using his best non-closer in that situation is close to 0 percent.

    Anyone disagree with either assessment?

    (I’m way more interested in the assessment of mnagament styles than I am in the fact that in this case the decision backfired spectacularly.)

  4. I think I agree with the first. I’m not sure the odds of him using his best non-closer in that situation are 0 percent — I think there’s a chance he uses 2021 Tyler Matzek, if 2021 Tyler Matzek is available — but probably pretty close.

    In general, I think it was the right decision even though it worked out horribly. Nola had given up a ton of loud contact over his past two innings. When he loaded the bases, it would have been fair to say that he was not the team’s best option to get out of the inning.

    Cristian Javier is real good.

  5. I would point out that there is a tendency (Bobby Cox had it in spades) to let your starting pitcher (particularly if he’s your ace) to give up a run before you pull him. That Snitker had any chance of pulling say, Fried, in that situation is a statement of how far strategic thinking in these situations have come.

    And I agree with you on 2021 Matzek, but I still think we would have seen Dylan Lee this year or his 2021 equivalent (Luke?), if anyone, last year.

    I would point out that Javier’s 3 innings against the Braves in the World Series last year were no bueno.

  6. I hate both teams but this just might be a good World Series.

    And yeah, we whipped the pants off everyone they had last year. But Javier was great on my fantasy team this year.

  7. If there’s a better practical exposition of “crapshoot” than the last two nights, I’m open to suggestions.

  8. I think they won’t find a trade for Ozuna unless they parcel him with a boatload of young starters, like Anderson, Muller Elder and more to a team like the Pirates for Reynolds. Im not sure they’d even do that deal, and if we get anything less than a starting LF or SS, it is not worth it if you just want to save a few million dollars. I think they might as well run him out there as the platoon with Eddie to see if either can get back to something like their old hitting production, and go get a real LF solution at the deadline or see how Vaughn or Malloy have developed by that point.

  9. I can see the A’s taking Ozuna along with some pitching prospects. Texas could fit him in, too. In the NL, the Red and the Pirates seem to me to be the only candidates. There are not many options here. He’s so bad.

  10. The only way I could see them getting rid of Ozuna is making a trade offer to a Sicilian on his daughter’s wedding day.

  11. That’s probably right. And is it worth it to save $15M or so in salary to empty out what remains of the farm system? He’d cost Muller and/or Shuster and a few others.

    Release him already.

  12. Nobody wants a DH who can’t hit and has off-field problems. Any trade of Ozuna is going to bring a bad contract back. Just cut him, eat the $. That sucks less than paying him the $ anyway AND having him be a net-negative. Sunk cost would be an improvement.

    Protip: life your life in such a way that no one compares you to either Foghorn Leghorn or Aunt Bea, but in the name of all that’s holy make sure you’re not compared to BOTH of them. 🤣

  13. Foghorn Leghorn’s range was not good, but I looked up Aunt Bea’s Statcast records and she had a surprisingly quick release which made up for some of the lack of pure armspeed.

  14. Look, I’m not saying that it’s 100% or even 50% that Ozuna gets traded, but the Braves do have some pitchers that likely aren’t breaking through the rotation anytime soon that need MLB innings, and there are teams that are always in need of pitching. The only way the Rockies are getting good pitching is by developing them. No good pitcher is going to volunteer to go there.

    The Braves aren’t going to trade for Kris Bryant’s contract, but they could trade for someone like Randal Grichuk and plan to platoon him with Rosario.

    Grichuk is owed $10MM in 2023
    Ozuna is owed $37MM through 2024

    If Braves chipped in $10MM ($5MM each year) and sent Muller and Vines, the Rockies would strongly consider the offer, even if it meant cutting Ozuna. Vines and Muller are worth $17MM to them, IMO.

    Unless AA just doesn’t want to trade prospects (honestly, I think now is the time), there should be no reason why they can’t entice pitching desperate teams to bite.

    And if Grichuk doesn’t work out, Grissom is the fallback.

  15. @18 Why would the Rockies take him? They already have a DH under contract for next year.

  16. @15/16 – Aunt Bea may have had a decent arm, but her hitting was even worse than Ozuna. Season 1, Episode 1 of the Andy Griffith Show actually shows her swinging a bat. Her swing looks a whole lot like Corky Miller, but unfortunately she picks up the wrong end of the bat.

  17. Well, I believe in the right context being compared to Foghorn Leghorn is a positive. You ought to see my impression. “I say, I say, boy, what IS that there thing you are a holdin'”

  18. I think we’re stuck with Ozuna. We’ll start the season with him to see if he can turn it around somewhat and if he can’t, he will get released.

  19. Heyman says the Braves were in the ~$100MM range for Dansby during mid-season talks, but that he comps well to Baez and Story, so they’re likely shooting for >$140MM. If I had to place a bet, I’d say Dansby is not going to be back.

  20. Hmm. I’m wondering what that means — where Heyman happened to get that number. Anthopoulos normally runs a pretty tight ship, but I can’t imagine anyone in Dansby’s camp leaking that number, since it’s so much lower than what he wants and it sets a low anchor. So I could see the Braves strategically leaking it to try to bring down Dansby’s market value and provide a cover trail if they ultimately don’t bring him back.

    But leaking is a risky move if the negotiations with the player are still ongoing, since you risk unnecessarily raising acrimony.

    So, the likeliest option seems to be that the team is trying to cover its bases and keep prices low for whichever direction they go at shortstop. The problem with this strategy is, as I keep having to remind myself, that Dansby is almost certainly the best option out there: I can’t see any scenario where Correa, Bogaerts, or Turner are even remotely plausible options if Dansby is too rich for their blood, and the only other free agent shortstop is Didi Gregorius, who is dreadful. So they’d have to pry a shortstop away from another team in trade, which could cost a king’s ransom in prospects, and the cupboard is very nearly bare in that department.

    Which brings me back to my core question: why would anyone tell Heyman that the Braves made an offer in the $100M range? And what is AA’s Plan B?

  21. Pretty good WS game last night.

    Funny how the defense kinda decided this game. Houston makes 2 terrific, late-inning plays that save them; meanwhile, Hoskins can’t come up with a play he needs to make… & the eventual, winning run scores.

    FWIW, I remain optimistic about Dansby.

  22. I’ve read in the past the Braves don’t do deferrals; is that an AA call or an ownership call?

    If it were me, I’d approach Dansby with a lower AAV but an overall number with deferrals that resembles what he wants. Chipper did it several times and I can’t image Dansby would say no as long as he gets a respectable offer. Again, we have a new TV deal coming later this decade. It won’t be Dodgers or Yankees money, but it’s going to top 10, minimum.

  23. It’s my understanding that it’s AA. It’s been his reputation since going back to Toronto

  24. I think it’s a pretty prudent policy — deferrals can get a team into really hot water, robbing the future to pay the present. Just ask the Nats. IIRC, he doesn’t give out no-trade clauses for the same reason.

  25. On Dansby, gold glove, all time Braves ss leader in rbis, speed, quick arm, THE LEADER AND CAPTAIN! Who’s on the mound for every coach visit? Dansby. KEEP HIM!

    On Duval, KEEP HIM! Platoon him with a lefty. 2nd best outfielder on the team? Duval.

  26. Bo’s not wrong.

    Duvall might be cooked though.

    Great day of college football, y’all. This is one of those days where you can watch college football for 11 hours straight and not be disappointed. My waist line can’t handle too many of these.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *