The Atlanta Braves filled what could have been a major hole, bringing back Marcell Ozuna on a four-year, $64 million contract, the club announced on Friday night, with a $16 million team option for a fifth year or a $1 million buyout.
The 30-year-old slugger led the National League with 18 home runs and 56 RBIs while finishing third with a .338 batting average — a big effort that was nearly enough to win the first NL Triple Crown since 1937 (Joe Medwick).
Ozuna also started all 60 games for Atlanta, and his slash line, .338/.431/.636, helped win his second career Silver Slugger award and helped carry the Braves to the National League Championship Series.
Ozuna finished sixth in the MVP voting, ending the season strong with an NL-best .394 average in September.
A 2018 injury cost Ozuna his solid defensive effectiveness — he won a Gold Glove in 2017 — and he played 39 of the 60 games last season as a designated hitter.
But he can hit.
Over the past five seasons, Ozuna has 130 home runs and has been selected to play in two All-Star Games. Since the start of 2017, Ozuna has 357 RBIs, second only to Nolan Arenado (384) and just ahead of teammate Freddie Freeman (343) among National League players, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Signed as an undrafted free agent by Florida in 2008, the Dominican Republic native debuted with the Marlins in 2013. St. Louis acquired him in 2017, before Atlanta signed him to a one-year deal in January, 2020.
To make room on the 40-man roster, the Braves designated outfielder Kyle Garlick for assignment.