Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe reported on Saturday that free agent Marcell Ozuna had “little buzz” on the market at the moment, after some interest early in the offseason.
This is somewhat surprising, given how good Ozuna was last season. At the same time, a major driving force is likely the uncertainty around the designated hitter. The league’s inability to come to a definitive decision on the designated hitter in the National league has most NL teams in “wait and see” mode on good offensive players that are defensive liabilities. Ozuna is probably hurt the most of any player on the market by this, since he was genuinely MVP caliber on offense last season for the Atlanta Braves, clearly terrible on defense, and is expected to get a big multi-year deal.
The lack of certainty on how the game will be played in 2021 combined with a market that is already moving at a glacial pace and is depressed due to lost revenue from the pandemic have free agents like Ozuna and Nelson Cruz waiting for a potential expansion to their market as well. Signing now would risk leaving money on the table if the DH does return to the National League. It’s frankly astonishing that we still have no certainty at this point on such an important rule for this upcoming season.
The lack of interest for Ozuna at the moment might make it somewhat more likely that he returns to Atlanta, because it could indicate that he isn’t going to get the massive deal that some people had predicted. With that being said, it is somewhat hard to imagine a team that already doesn’t like to give big long-term contracts in Atlanta outbidding American League league teams for a player of Ozuna’s defensive profile without the DH in the National League.