So, that thing about the Nationals’ projected Opening Day lineup finally being in place? Well, Denard Span sat out tonight’s game against the Padres with a sore back and Yunel Escobar was forced to exit in the sixth inning after he was hit in the right hand by a pitch.
Escobar was hit by Andrew Cashner with the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth inning. It brought in the Nationals’ first run of the night and tied the game. The Nationals would score another run in the inning to take the lead. Escobar remained in the game initially before Danny Espinosa replaced him in the lineup and Anthony Rendon moved over to third. The Nationals should provide an update after the game.
Escobar has been all sorts of banged up this season and just missed some time last weekend with a hyperextended neck. The 32-year-old has still managed to be one of the Nationals’ best players, batting .308/.367/.423 with nine home runs and 42 RBI over 112 games.
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.