Will Marcell Ozuna thrive in Atlanta?

Free-agent outfielder Marcell Ozuna and the Braves reached a one-year, $18 million deal on Tuesday. AP

New Atlanta Braves OF Marcell Ozuna might not have finished the 2019 season as a top-20 outfielder, but that was mainly thanks to an unlucky .241 batting average. After all, Ozuna posted the highest walk rate of his career in 2019, turned a healthy portion of ground balls into line drives and was among the league leaders in both exit velocity and hard-hit rate. His batting average on balls in play was .257, dropping his career mark to .314. Hey, sometimes players simply get unlucky. It could happen again, but with Ozuna, who also stole a career-best 12 bases and has yet to turn 30, that seems unlikely.

Ozuna should have every chance to thrive with Atlanta, his third team in four seasons, as he will likely secure the cleanup spot in the lineup formerly handled by Josh Donaldson, now a member of the Minnesota Twins. Donaldson hit 30 of his 37 home runs hitting in the No. 4 spot, protecting 1B Freddie Freeman in the lineup, though it hardly means Ozuna will match those numbers. After all, they are vastly different players.

For example, while Donaldson's main issue in recent seasons has been injuries, Ozuna played 148 or more games in three consecutive seasons prior to 2019, when he played in 130. His fantasy-relevant statistics have been anything but consistent, with his fantastic 2017 campaign (37 HRs, 124 RBIs, .312 BA) looking like the clear outlier. However, if he can just duplicate his 2019 power numbers (29 HRs, 89 RBIs) and hit closer to his career batting average of .272, that is a potential top-20 outfielder, especially if he feels like stealing 12 bases again.

One other note to consider is that Ozuna agreed to a one-year contract. Just like Donaldson, who played under similar terms in 2019, he will be looking for a multiyear contract after the season. Some will overvalue Ozuna in fantasy based on this information, assuming that extra motivation equals extra numbers. That is dangerous, since plenty of hitters in contract seasons disappoint. If Ozuna's ADP ends up in the range of the sixth or seventh round, I will likely pass. We have no idea if he will steal bases, and if you remove his one big season, he has never hit 30 home runs or driven in 90 runs.

As for the Atlanta outfield, the theory was that defensive stalwart Ender Inciarte would handle center field, moving potential No. 1 fantasy pick Ronald Acuna Jr. to right field and leaving a left-field platoon of Nick Markakis and Adam Duvall. Ozuna is no defensive ace, but he will handle left field. Those in deeper formats might not think his arrival matters, but Inciarte, Markakis and even Duvall are potentially valuable options. Inciarte entered the 2019 season with a career .289 batting average and 106 stolen bases over five seasons. Markakis is solid against right-handed pitching. Duvall offers power versus left-handers. It remains to be seen exactly which player (or players) loses time -- or if a trade is pending -- but there is value to be gained here, depending on who plays.