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.
The Associated press has learned that umpire Kerwin Danley will soon be named the first African-American crew chief in baseball history. MLB will likely make the announcement official some time this week.
Danley, 58, called his first game in the majors in 1992 as a minor league fill-in and was hired as a full time big league up in 1998. He has worked two World Series and has worked ten other postseason rounds. He has also called two All-Star Games.
It’s quite a thing that it has taken until 2020 for there to be a black crew chief. Baseball, however, has historically lagged in hiring and promoting black umpires. The first black big league umpire — Emmett Ashford — did not make his debut until 1966, nearly two decades after Jackie Robinson broke the color line for players. In all, the Associated Press notes, there have been only ten black umpires in the game’s history.
As for Danley himself, in the nearly 11-year history of this website, we have only written one post about any bad calls he has made, and that was a very minor and ultimately meaningless bad call in a Rays-Orioles game in 2010. If you’re an umpire and you’re not making the news, you’re doing a good job.
Congratulations on the promotion, Kerwin Danley. Per what I said in the last paragraph, here’s hoping that we only mention your name when you are given postseason assignments in the coming years.