Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna drilled a Jerad Eickhoff fastball into the stands in left-center field at Citizens Bank Park on Monday night, extending his hitting streak to 16 games. That’s not only 16 consecutive games with a hit, it’s 16 consecutive games using hitting coach Barry Bonds’ bat.
Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports that Ozuna has been using Bonds’ bats since April 30, the first day of his hitting streak. The bats have been prone to breaking, so Bonds had to order more for Ozuna. “I feel great swinging that bat,” Ozuna said.
Ozuna entered Monday’s series opener against the Phillies batting .312/.358/.514 with six home runs and 19 RBI.
During the offseason, Bonds and manager Don Mattingly lobbied owner Jeffrey Loria to hold on to Ozuna. A month and a half into the season, that seems like it was a wise decision.
Around this time last year, the ink was drying on Manny Machado‘s 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres and Bryce Harper was about to put the finishing touches on his 13-year, $330 million deal with the Phillies. We had gotten used to premier free agents hanging out in limbo until late February and even into March. This past offseason, however, was a return to normal. The top three free agents — Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, and Stephen Strasburg — all signed in December. Once the big names are off the board, the lesser free agents subsequently tend to find homes. There were a handful of noteworthy signings in January, but pretty much everyone was off the board when February began.
There are a handful of free agents remaining as I write this, with one name really sticking out: Yasiel Puig. Last season, between the Reds and Indians, Puig hit .267/.327/.458 with 24 home runs, 84 RBI, 76 runs scored, and 19 stolen bases in 611 plate appearances. He was one of only seven players in the league last year to hit at least 24 home runs and swipe at least 19 bases. While Puig has had some problems over the years, he still possesses a rare blend of power and speed that would seem useful.
The Marlins, White Sox, and Rockies have been linked to Puig this offseason. His market has been otherwise quiet since he became a free agent. The Athletic’s Jim Bowden suggests Puig will have to settle for a “pillow contract” — a one-year deal with which Puig reestablishes his market value, aiming to pursue a multi-year deal the following offseason. Along with the aforementioned three teams, Bowden suggests the Mariners, Indians, Pirates, Giants, Red Sox, and Cardinals as other teams that could potentially fit with Puig, which is not to be confused with teams having expressed interest in his services.