Marcell Ozuna Agrees to Four-Year, $64 Million Deal with Atlanta Braves

Marcell Ozuna is returning to a Brave world…

The Atlanta Braves are bringing back the 30-year-old Dominican professional baseball outfielder and designated hitter, signing Ozuna to a $64 million, four-year contract.

Marcell Ozuna

The Braves announced the deal for the 2020 NL home run and RBI leader on Friday night, less than two weeks before pitchers and catchers are set to report for spring training.

The contract includes a fifth-year club option for $16 million that would take it to $80 million with a $1 million buyout, which would yield Ozuna $65 million in guaranteed money.

Ozuna took a gamble on himself after the 2019 season, turning down a $17.8 million qualifying offer from the St. Louis Cardinals, and signed a one-year, $18 million deal with the Braves in late January.

The move paid off handsomely, as the slugger finished sixth in the National League MVP voting after leading the league with 18 home runs, 56 RBIs and 145 total bases. He was third in the NL with a career-best .338 batting average and .636 slugging percentage.

The bet? The $17.8 million qualifying offer by the Cardinals would’ve represented 41% of his career earnings to that point.

While considered somewhat of a defensive liability after suffering a shoulder injury in 2018, Ozuna, who turned 30 in November, did see some action in left field for the Braves while playing all 60 games during the pandemic-shortened season.

However, most of his at-bats for Atlanta came as the team’s designated hitter, slotted after MVP Freddie Freeman in the lineup as the Braves won the NL East title after putting up some of the best offensive numbers in team history.

Before joining the Braves, Ozuna spent two seasons with the Cardinals, protecting Paul Goldschmidt in the lineup as they made it back to the playoffs in 2019. Over the past five seasons, including the 60-game season in 2020, Ozuna has hit 130 home runs, making two All-Star Games on the strength of his bat.

Since the start of the 2017 season, Ozuna has 357 RBIs, second only to the Colorado Rockies‘ Nolan Arenado (384) and just ahead of Freeman (343) among National League players, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

In eight MLB seasons, he has a .276 batting average with 166 home runs, 594 RBIs and 505 runs scored for the Seattle Marlins, Cardinals and Braves.

Chicago White Sox Star Jose Abreu Wins Hank Aaron Award

Jose Abreu is officially on of this year’s MLB stars…

The 33-year-old Cuban professional baseball player, a first baseman for the Chicago White Sox has won the Hank Aaron Award as the outstanding offensive performer in Major League Baseball’s American League, as voted by MLB.com.

Jose Abreu

Abreu, a three-time MLB All-Star, hit .317 with 15 doubles, 19 homers and 60 RBIs during 60 games in the pandemic-shortened season.

First basemen Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves won the Hank Aaron Award in the National League.

He was second in the NL in batting (.341), OBP (.462), slugging percentage (.640) and OPS (1.102).

“Congratulations to José Abreu and @FreddieFreeman5 on winning the 2020 A.L. And N.L. Hank Aaron Awards,” Aaron tweeted. “You are both so deserving and I’m proud of the season you both had.”

Abreu was voted AL MVP and Freeman won NL MVP.

Ronald Acuna Jr. Earns Second Career Silver Slugger Award

There’s certainly a silver lining for Ronald Acuna Jr. 

The 22-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball player is among four Atlanta Braves players to earn Silver Slugger Awards, which were unveiled Thursday by Major League Baseball in honor of the best offensive players at every position in each league.

Ronald Acuna Jr. 

Winning from the Braves were Acuna Jr., Freddie Freeman and Marcell Ozuna, who each won the award for the second time, and first-time winner Travis d’Arnaud.

The Chicago White Sox led the American League with three Silver Sluggers: shortstop Tim Anderson, left fielder Eloy Jimenez and first baseman Jose Abreu, who won the award for the third time after batting .317 with 19 home runs and 60 RBIs.

It was the first honor for both Anderson and Jimenez.

Los Angeles Angels star outfielder Mike Trout received his eighth Silver Slugger Award after batting .281 with 17 home runs and 46 RBIs this season.

2020 Silver Slugger Winners

POS. AL NL
C Salvador Perez, Royals Travis d’Arnaud, Braves
1B Jose Abreu, White Sox Freddie Freeman, Braves
2B DJ LeMahieu, Yankees Donovan Solano, Giants
SS Tim Anderson, White Sox Fernando Tatis Jr., Padres
3B Jose Ramírez, Indians Manny Machado, Padres
OF Mike Trout, Angels Juan Soto, Nationals
OF Eloy Jimenez, White Sox Mookie Betts, Dodgers
OF Teoscar Hernandez, Blue Jays Ronald Acuna Jr., Braves
DH Nelson Cruz, Twins Marcell Ozuna, Braves

Minnesota Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz, New York Yankees second baseman DJ LeMahieu, Cleveland Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez, Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez and Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Teoscar Hernandez rounded out the American League winners.

World Series champion and Los Angeles Dodgers star Mookie Betts, Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto, San Francisco Giants second baseman Donovan Solano and San Diego Padres teammates Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado completed the National League list.

Selections are based on a combination of offensive stats, including batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, in addition to the managers’ and coaches’ views of a player’s overall offensive value.

Manny Machado Named National League MVP Finalist

Manny Machado has proven his most valuable status…

The 28-year-old Dominican-American professional baseball player and San Diego Padres third baseman and shortstop has been named a finalist in the MLB’s National League MVP race.

Manny Machado

Machado, who hit .304 with 16 homers and 47 RBIs for the Padres this season, is nominated alongside Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts and Atlanta Braves star Freddie Freeman, after balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Meanwhile, New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom is going for his third consecutive National League Cy Young Award. He’s facing off Trevor Bauer and Yu Darvish for the honor.

The top three finishers for each BBWAA award were revealed Monday. The winners will be announced next week.

Balloting for the BBWAA awards was completed before the start of the postseason.

Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu, Cleveland Indians infielder Jose Ramirez and New York Yankees leadoff man DJ LeMahieu are the top three finishers in voting for the American League MVP award.

LeMahieu, who hit a big league-best .364, and Bauer are free agents after starring during the pandemic-shortened season.

Indian’ pitcher Shane Bieber joined Minnesota Twins right-hander Kenta Maeda and Toronto Blue Jays left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu as finalists for the American League Cy Young Award.

The top finishers in voting for American League Manager of the Year are Tampa Bay RaysKevin Cash, Toronto OriolesCharlie Montoyo and Rick Renteria, who was let go by the Chicago White Sox after the team made the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

Miami’s Don Mattingly, San Diego’s Jayce Tingler and the Cubs’ David Ross are the finalists for NL Manager of the Year. Tingler and Ross just completed their first seasons as big league skippers.

The finalists for AL Rookie of the Year are Houston Astros right-hander Cristian Javier and center fielders Kyle Lewis of the Seattle Mariners and Luis Robert of the White Sox. Philadelphia Phillies infielder Alec Bohm, Padres infielder Jake Cronenworth and Milwaukee Brewers reliever Devin Williams are the top finishers for the National League rookie award.

Julio Urías Makes MLB History as the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Game 7 Closer Against the Atlanta Braves

Julio Urías has etched his name into the annals of Major League Baseball history…

On Sunday night, the 24-year-old Mexican professional baseball player, a former child prodigy, pitched the Los Angeles Dodgers into the 2020 World Series.

Julio Urías

“It was his moment,” manager Dave Roberts said.

Urías entered the seventh inning of a tied game and retired the next nine Atlanta Braves batters in order, requiring only 39 pitches to do so. He blanked the over the final three innings of a 4-3 victory in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series in Arlington, Texas.

With that, the left-hander became only the second reliever to close out a winner-take-all game with at least three no-hit innings. The other: Pedro Martinez in his famous six-inning performance in Game 5 of the 1999 American League Division Series for the Boston Red Sox against the Cleveland Indians.

It was Urias’ second win of the series, the first coming only four days earlier, when he threw 101 pitches in a Game 3 start.

His fastball touching 96 mph, he recorded his first three outs on only 10 pitches.

The quick seventh inning positioned Urías to earn the victory when Cody Bellinger launched a 94-mph sinker by Chris Martin into the right-field stands in the bottom of the inning.

Urías responded by navigating through the middle of the Braves’ order in the eighth inning. Their best hitter, Freddie Freeman, worked a nine-pitch at-bat, but Urías ultimately made him line out weakly to center field.

In Roberts’ mind, there was little question about who would pitch the ninth inning.

Kenley Jansen had pitched in each of the two previous games. This was Urías’ game to finish.

“I trust him,” Roberts said.

Urías forced Ozzie Albies to ground out. He made Dansby Swanson do the same. And when his changeup was lazily golfed to center field by Austin Riley, Urías raised his arms skyward.

Bellinger caught the fly ball, prompting Will Smith to approach the mound in celebration. Urías slapped Smith’s chest protector and embraced the catcher.

In the immediate aftermath of the victory, NLCS most valuable player Corey Seager marveled at Urías’ composure.

“That was his moment right there,” Seager said. “That was his game to win, and he went out and did it.”

Juan Soto Becomes MLB’s Youngest National League Batting Champion

Juan Soto has swung his way into the Major League Baseball history books…

The 21-year-old Dominican professional baseball player and Washington Nationals outfielder, nicknamed ”Childish Bambino,“ has become the National League‘s youngest batting champion, as Washington closed out the season with a 15-5 victory over the New York Mets.

Soto walked and singled before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the third inning, elevating his average to .351 and sealing the NL lead in the category during this pandemic-shortened 60-game season.

Soto surpassed Brooklyn’s Pete Reiser as the youngest ever to take a batting crown. Reiser was 22 when he ended the 1941 season hitting a league-leading .343.

“For me, it doesn’t matter the age,” Soto said with a smile when informed of the feat’s historical significance. “If you deserve it, you deserve it.”

Soto held off Atlanta Braves teammates Freddie Freeman (.341) and Marcell Ozuna (.338) and also finished 2020 with the MLB lead in on-base percentage (.490) and slugging percentage (.695).

Soto was also named Washington’s player of the year in voting by local media.

The Nationals finished 26-34 a year after winning their first World Series.

Ronald Acuña Jr. Receives First-Ever Silver Slugger Award

It’s a silverfirst for Ronald Acuña Jr.

The 21-year-old Venezuelan Major League Baseball baseball outfielder for the Atlanta Braves has received his first Silver Slugger Award, awarded annually to the best offensive player at each position in both the American League and the National League, as determined by the coaches and managers. 

Ronald Acuna Jr.

For the year, Acuña hit .280/.365/.883, with 127 runs (leading the National League), 41 home runs, and 37 stolen bases (leading the league). He missed the 40–40 club by three stolen bases.

Acuña’s Braves teammates Freddie Freeman and Ozzie Albies are among the first-time winners on the National League side, along with Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger.

First-timers for the American League are Cleveland Indians first baseman Carlos SantanaNew York Yankees infielder DJ LeMahieuHouston Astros infielder Alex Bregman and Minnesota Twins catcher Mitch Garver.

Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout was awarded his seventh Silver Slugger Award after batting .291 with 45 home runs and 104 RBIs this season.

World Series champion and Washington Nationals slugger Anthony Rendon, a two-time winner, Philadelphia Phillies catcher J.T. RealmutoColorado Rockies shortstop Trevor StoryMilwaukee Brewers star Christian Yelich and former Arizona Diamondbacks ace Zack Greinke, who was dealt by the D-backs to the Astros at the trade deadline, completed the National League list.

Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz, a three-time winner, Astros outfielder George Springer and Boston Red Sox teammates Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts rounded out the American League winners.

Selections are based on a combination of offensive stats, including batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage in addition to the managers’ and coaches’ views of a player’s overall offensive value.

Javier Baez to Bat Second for National League in the MLB All-Star Game

It’s batter up for Javier Baez

The 26-year-old Puerto Rican professional baseball player and shortstop for the Chicago Cubs, nicknamed “El Mago,” is slated to bat second for the National League in Tuesday’s MLB All-Star Game.

Javier Baez

Baez, in his second straight All-Star Game, will follow lead-off hitter and Milwaukee Brewers slugger Christian Yelich, who bowed out of the Home Run Derbywith a back issue. Yelich leads the majors with 31 home runs.

He’ll befollowed by Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie FreemanLos Angeles Dodgersright fielder Cody BellingerColorado Rockiesthird baseman Nolan ArenadoPittsburgh Pirates‘ Josh Bell at designated hitter, Cubs catcher Willson ContrerasArizona Diamondbackssecond baseman Ketel Marte and Atlanta center fielder Ronald Acuna Jr.

The National League has the youngest starting lineup in All-Star Gamehistory, with an average age of 25.75. The previous record was 26.4 by the 2017 ALstarters.

Houston Astros‘ George Springer leads off and plays right field for the American League and is followed in the order by New York Yankees second baseman DJ LeMahieuLos Angeles Angels center fielder Mike TroutCleveland Indians’ first baseman Carlos SantanaBoston Red Sox designated hitter J.D. Martinez, Houston third baseman Alex Bregman, Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez, Astros left fielder Michael Brantley and Minnesota Twins’ shortstop Jorge Polanco.

Cora joked about LeMahieu’s success against the Red Sox in his first season after leaving the Rockies for New York — especially when Boston played the Yankees in London last month.

“People in the offseason thought that he wasn’t going to be able to hit outside of Colorado. Well, he hits outside of Colorado and in Europe, too,” Cora said.