June 25, 2024

Marcell Ozuna has expressed his interest in signing a contract extension with the Braves.

“I feel comfortable here, with my teammates and the organization’s support. There’s no doubt in my decision. I don’t want to go anywhere else,” Ozuna stated to The Athletic’s David O’Brien.

Ozuna’s current four-year, $65M contract is set to expire at the end of the season. However, the Braves have a $16M club option for 2025, which seems likely to be exercised given Ozuna’s impressive performance at the plate. After a stellar 40-homer season in 2023, Ozuna has continued his strong form in 2024, boasting a .344/.419/.677 batting line in his first 105 plate appearances and leading the National League with nine home runs.

Marcell Ozuna makes Braves 'impossible to root for,' ex-Atlanta pitcher  says | Fox News

A year ago, the notion of Marcell Ozuna remaining with the Braves for an extended period would have seemed unlikely. The seasoned player faced significant challenges during the initial two seasons of his contract, including a DUI arrest and a subsequent 20-game suspension under MLB’s policy on domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse.

Despite these difficulties, the Braves reportedly never entertained the idea of parting ways with Ozuna, demonstrating a willingness to support him through his off-field issues and on-field struggles. This suggests that the team may be open to discussing a longer-term commitment beyond the upcoming club option year.

However, several hurdles need to be addressed. Ozuna will turn 35 in November 2025 and primarily serves as a designated hitter at this stage of his career. Additionally, the Braves’ payroll has reached record levels in both absolute terms and in terms of luxury-tax implications, posing financial challenges to any potential extension.

In the NL East, Taijuan Walker is slated to come off the 15-day injured list on Sunday to start for the Phillies against the Padres. A shoulder impingement delayed Walker’s 2024 debut, allowing Spencer Turnbull to step in and impress as a replacement starter in Philadelphia’s rotation. Turnbull has posted an impressive 1.33 ERA over 27 innings and five starts, potentially earning him a continued role in the starting rotation. However, manager Rob Thomson stated that the decision on Turnbull’s next step will be made after Walker’s outing on Sunday. Turnbull could receive a traditional start on Tuesday or participate in a piggyback start with Cristopher Sanchez on Monday. With Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Ranger Suarez, Sanchez, and Turnbull all performing well, Walker’s return presents the Phillies with a surplus of pitching options and a welcome challenge for the team to manage.

Turning to the Mets, Kodai Senga is scheduled to throw a live batting practice session on Monday, while Tylor Megill will begin a minor league rehab assignment with high-A Brooklyn. Senga has yet to pitch this season due to a moderate posterior capsule strain suffered during spring training and is not eligible to join the Mets until May 27 at the earliest due to his placement on the 60-day injured list. Megill appeared in one game before a shoulder strain sidelined him and landed him on the 15-day IL. Both Senga and Megill could factor into a potential six-man rotation over the next six weeks to keep the Mets’ pitching staff fresh during a busy stretch of the schedule.

Meanwhile, Cade Cavalli is set to face live hitters for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery in March 2023. Cavalli is scheduled for a live batting practice session on Monday as part of his rehab progress. The plan is for the right-hander to begin a minor league rehab assignment in mid-May, with Nationals manager Davey Martinez eyeing Cavalli’s potential return to the majors by “sometime at the end of June, maybe July.”

Braves two-time All-Star addresses future with team

The 22nd overall pick in the 2020 draft, Cavalli made one MLB appearance before his career was paused by the Tommy John procedure, but if all goes well with his recovery, he could soon slot into a prominent role in the Nationals’ rotation.

 

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