Raul Ibanez notches 2,000th career hit in style

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Angels DH Raul Ibanez joined the 2,000-hit club in a big way in Saturday night’s game against the Mets. With closer Jose Valverde on the mound in the bottom of the ninth inning to protect a 6-3 Mets lead, the Angels mounted a two-out rally. David Freese singled, then Erick Aybar walked to bring up the 41-year-old Ibanez. Ibanez took a ball, then took Valverde deep to right-field for a game-tying three-run home run to tie the game at six apiece.

In case you think the scene sounds familiar, you’re right. In the bottom of the ninth with two outs in Game 1 of the 2012 ALCS, Valverde (then with the Tigers) served up a game-tying two-run home run to Ibanez (then with the Yankees) to tie the game at four-all. History seems to have repeated itself.

With nine more runs batted in, Ibanez will become the 88th player in baseball history with 2,000 hits, 300 home runs, and 1,200 RBI in his career.

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.