Marcell Ozuna gets one-year deal from Braves worth $18 million

ATLANTA -- Free-agent outfielder Marcell Ozuna and the Atlanta Braves reached a one-year, $18 million deal Tuesday that puts him on the team he helped beat in the playoffs in October.

Ozuna hit .429 with two home runs for the St. Louis Cardinals in their five-game win over the Braves in the National League Division Series.

The 29-year-old Ozuna hit .241 with 29 home runs and 89 RBIs last season. His low batting average was something of an oddity because he ranked among the major league leaders in the highest percentage of hard-hit balls, according to Statcast.

Ozuna is a two-time All-Star who spent his first five seasons with the Marlins then was traded and played two years in St. Louis.

"We'd be happy with what he did the last few years, but we think there's that upside in him to be even better," Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos said Tuesday night.

Ozuna will play left field. Ronald Acuna Jr. also will be a fixture in the outfield, playing either of the other two spots. Anthopoulos said the resulting glut of outfielders -- Ender Inciarte, Nick Markakis and Adam Duvall -- will be settled this spring. A trade is possible.

Ozuna's signing leaves infielder-outfielder Nicholas Castellanos as the last remaining major free agent with spring training set to start in about three weeks.

The two-time NL East champion Braves have been busy this offseason. On Monday, they signed former American League Cy Young Award winner and longtime Seattle Mariners ace Felix Hernandez to a minor league deal with an invite to big league spring training.

There could be more competition in the outfield, with two of the team's top prospects -- Cristian Pache and Drew Waters -- playing that position. Each finished the 2019 season with Triple-A Gwinnett.

The one-year deal with Ozuna creates a possible opening for Pache or Waters in 2021. However, Anthopoulos left open the possibility of working out a long-term deal with Ozuna.

"I think this is a very good opportunity for him to play to his potential with a good team, a good lineup," Anthopoulos said. "Obviously, there would be the potential this could be a longer deal over time."