In the aftermath of Marcell Ozuna’s DUI arrest on Friday morning, speculation emerged on how (and potentially, when) the Atlanta Braves might react in an official capacity. Ozuna was in the dugout in uniform for the team’s win over the Houston Astros on Friday, and the 31-year-old delivered a short statement to reporters while taking no questions. From the team side came a placeholder statement indicating that the Braves were aware of the arrest and “are still gathering all the facts pertaining to the incident.” The Braves did say that the team is “obviously disappointed by the situation,” but also indicated there will be “no further comment until the process is complete,” citing the legal matter at hand.
On Saturday, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports added a bit of clarity to the proceedings in a television interview ahead of the evening’s nationally televised game between the Braves and Astros.
.@Ken_Rosenthal with the latest on Marcell Ozuna following his DUI arrest. pic.twitter.com/OWm6YuIJ6f— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) August 20, 2022
“The Braves aren’t going to do anything until they get official word on the matter, until the legal process is resolved,” Rosenthal said. “They won’t comment until then. They won’t act until then.”
This isn’t a shocking revelation in that the Braves expressly said they would not have further comment until the legal matter resolved itself. Still, this is pointed reporting from Rosenthal and, in the absence of legal clarity, the Braves may choose to simply operate in a “business as usual” format.
However, Rosenthal went on to speculate about Ozuna’s future with the club in an interesting way. Including the rest of 2022, Ozuna has approximately $41 million remaining on his contract through the end of the 2024 season, and that is certainly a factor, regardless of opinion on whether it should be in the aftermath of his second arrest in less than 18 months. Still, Rosenthal’s view is that he projects the Braves to move on from Ozuna at the conclusion of the legal process.
“Once this all resolves, once the legal issue is clear, or not clear, I would expect the Braves to act and to release him,” Rosenthal said.
Later in the interview, Rosenthal noted that Ozuna was not contributing for the Braves on the field, sitting the four previous games before this week’s arrest. In addition, Rosenthal mentions that he was not a part of the 2021 World Series run. He does acknowledge that there is a “a lot of money to eat” in a world in which the Braves release Ozuna, but when Rosenthal speaks in this fashion, there is authority behind it, even if this is not a firm report of Atlanta’s plans.
It remains to be seen as to how the Braves might act, and how long the legal process takes. In the meantime, Ozuna is on the active roster — at least at the time of this post — and projects to be uniform unless something changes.