Shane Victorino could give up switch-hitting

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Shane Victorino gave up switch-hitting down the stretch last season and Red Sox manager John Farrell told Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe today that the veteran outfielder is considering hitting exclusively from the right side of the plate this season.

Nothing is official yet, but this would be a positive development for the Red Sox, as Victorino has enjoyed more success from the right side during his career. It makes sense, as the 33-year-old is a natural right-handed hitter and took up switch-hitting in 2002. While it was a small sample, Victorino hit .300/.386/.510 with six home runs in 115 plate appearances batting righty against right-handed pitchers during the regular season last year.

“The right side has always been his strong side,” Farrell said. “I think last year his production against righthanded pitching probably has enabled him to be a little bit more open-minded to getting the majority of at-bats from that side of the plate.”

Farrell said the Red Sox support the idea.

“We want the most productive player,” he said. “If that’s what it lends to, we’d be perfectly fine with it if that’s what he opts to do.”

Now that Jacoby Ellsbury is with the Yankees, the Red Sox need to settle on a replacement out of the leadoff spot. Daniel Nava has been mentioned as a possibility, but it’s fair to say that Farrell will be more likely to go with Victorino if he’s hitting exclusively from the right side.

Victorino has yet to make his spring debut, as he’s taking things slowly after offseason thumb surgery among other factors, but Farrell hopes to have him in the lineup early next week.

Braves sign Marcell Ozuna to one-year, $18 million deal

Marcell Ozuna
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The Braves have announced on Tuesday evening the signing of free agent outfielder Marcell Ozuna. ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that it’s a one-year contract for $18 million.

Ozuna, 29, hit .241/.328/.472 with 29 home runs, 89 RBI, 80 runs scored, and 12 stolen bases in 549 plate appearances for the Cardinals last season. He’s been consistently above-average in each of the past four seasons, which also included a career year in 2017 in which he was worth 6.1 WAR, per Baseball Reference.

It is surprising that Ozuna, a two-time All-Star and Gold Glove Award winner, had to settle for a one-year deal. The Braves are happy he did as he will help make up for some of the offense lost when third baseman Josh Donaldson became a free agent and ultimately signed with the Twins. Ozuna can become a free agent again after the 2020 season but won’t have qualifying offer compensation attached to him, part of the reason why his market may have been slow to develop.

Along with Ozuna, the Braves have signed in free agency this offseason reliever Will Smith, starter Cole Hamels, and catcher Travis d'Arnaud. They re-signed relievers Chris Martin and Darren O'Day, catcher Tyler Flowers, infielder Adeiny Hechavarría, and outfielder Nick Markakis.