Victor Martinez takes batting practice; could be ready for Opening Day?

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Victor Martinez took batting practice Monday for the first time since undergoing knee surgery in mid-February and felt good enough to create some optimism that the Tigers designated hitter could be ready for Opening Day.

Martinez is currently four weeks into what was initially a 4-6 week recovery timetable for a torn meniscus in his left knee. He’s avoided any setbacks, but stopped short of targeting Opening Day, telling Jason Beck of MLB.com:

I don’t know anything about that … Just thank god everything is going good. We will see what happens.

Martinez re-signed with the Tigers on a four-year, $68 million deal as a free agent this offseason after hitting .335 with 32 homers and a career-high .974 OPS at age 35.

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.