Ozuna Leaves Cardinals, Signs With Braves

Hayden See, Reporter

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On Tuesday, former Cardinals outfielder Marcell Ozuna signed with the Atlanta Braves.

The pending free-agent was unable to land an extension during the season, in which he led the team in OPS (on-base plus slugging). That led him to leave the Gateway city and head down south to Atlanta, where he agreed to a one-year, $18 million pact, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. The deal is just $200,000 richer than the offer the Cardinals extended to Ozuna early in the offseason, in the form of a qualifying offer. As a result of St. Louis extending the qualifying offer, they will receive a pick in the upcoming draft due to Ozuna signing elsewhere.

“Ozuna leaving for an extra $200,000 seems off to me,” senior Blake Haffer said.

Many fans saw the tea leaves on an Ozuna departure; the Cardinals’ plethora of outfielders are ready to be tested at the MLB level, however Ozuna hinders the club’s ability to get them big league experience. Additionally, Ozuna’s outs above average, a defensive metric that shows a defender’s ability, ranks in the bottom 3rd percentile in the MLB. With the Cardinals’ archetype being pitching first, offense next, he didn’t seem to fit into the mold.

“Ozuna’s defense was not very good. He would make routine catches seem difficult,” senior Ethan Seymore said.

With Ozuna now with the Braves, St. Louis will use Spring Training as the audition for the vacant outfield spot; Tyler O’Neill and Dylan Carlson are both power heavy outfielders, and will be vying for a MLB job this spring. Lane Thomas and Justin Williams, although not as highly rated prospects, will get their shot at landing a major league gig. 

“I am excited to see what Carlson can do if he makes it to the MLB,” senior Harrison Reibow said.

Ozuna’s departure puts the Cardinals in a more flexible position with their outfield.