Michael Cuddyer is back from the disabled list after missing the past three weeks with a bruised knee and the Mets have decided to keep rookie Michael Conforto around after initially calling him up to fill in for Cuddyer.
Conforto has hit just .222 with 11 strikeouts in 11 games, but the 22-year-old top prospect and former first-round draft pick has also drawn five walks and totaled four extra-base hits for a solid .714 OPS.
Cuddyer is 36 years old and managed a .683 OPS in 82 games before being shut down, so keeping him fresh with some days off while also giving Conforto enough starts to continue his development in the big leagues seems like the Mets’ plan for the third outfield spot alongside Yoenis Cespedes and Curtis Granderson.
Simply shifting Cuddyer into a part-time or bench role is also an option, although the Mets gave up a first-round draft pick to sign him this offseason and still owe him $12.5 million for 2016.
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.