Free agent outfielder Marcell Ozuna agreed to a one-year with the Braves on Tuesday, not getting the long-term contract he desired when he hit the open market.

Ozuna, who just turned 29, will earn $18 million in 2020, Atlanta announced. He is coming off a 29-homer season with the Cardinals and will enter the spot in the middle of the Braves’ lineup that departing Josh Donaldson occupied last year.

Ozuna was solid but unspectacular in his two seasons in St. Louis, amassing five wins over replacement, according to Baseball Reference. He slashed .241/.328/.472 in 2019, and he still carries the allure of his 2017 production in Miami that sent him to the All-Star Game and at the time led people to expect star progression.

So why did Ozuna get just one year and no long-term security from the Braves? There are a couple of likely factors.

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Draft pick compensation

Because Ozuna declined a $17.8 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals earlier in the offseason, MLB’s collective bargaining agreement stipulates that the team that signs him in free agency must give up a draft pick to St. Louis. As we’ve seen with other recent free agents, that rule likely made signing Ozuna less palatable to otherwise interested teams and drove down his market value.

The Braves, though, were inclined to surrender a draft pick for a low-risk, short-term deal. After losing Donaldson, who signed with the organization for one year last season, the contending team needed extra punch in the middle of its order. Ozuna gives it that boost.

Fielding decline

After winning a Gold Glove in 2017, Ozuna struggled to handle left field in St. Louis. Beyond his gaffes, he offered very little range, ranking in just the third percentile in Baseball Savant’s outs above average metric.

Teams had reason to look at Ozuna’s fielding with skepticism, then, particularly in the context of a multi-year contract that would take him into his 30s. Given the current defensive range of Ronald Acuña Jr. in center field for the Braves, Ozuna’s shortcomings could be minimized in 2020.

‘Prove it’ deal

Ozuna could certainly play his way into a long-term contract next offseason with a standout campaign for the Braves. Age won’t be much of an issue — particularly if the deal is three or four years — and production aligned with 2017 would make a pretty convincing case for betting on the Dominican Republic native. Plus, he will be a part of a playoff contender once again, a profile-raising bonus that gives him lineup support and possible October at-bats.

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