The Astros made a big push to sign free agent reliever Andrew Miller before he settled on a four-year, $36 million contract offer from the Yankees. Now the Houston front office is focusing its effort and its budget on a different late-inning option.
Buster Olney of ESPN reports that the Astros “continue to pursue” free agent closer David Robertson, and there is a belief that Robertson’s biggest offer could ultimately come from Houston.
It’s odd that a team coming off four consecutive 90-plus loss seasons would want to pay huge money for a closer, but the ‘Stros do have quite a bit of young talent on their roster and in the minors, and they clearly want to have a reliable bullpen in place when that promise turns into a real ability to contend.
Robertson, 29, boasts a dominant 2.20 ERA, 1.097 WHIP, and 12.3 K/9 in 258 innings since the beginning of the 2011 season. If the Astros can’t get him, they’re expected to then try for Sergio Romo.
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.