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#pounditTuesday, August 9, 2022

5 MLB players who could be one-and-done with their new teams

Mookie Betts

A shortened Major League Baseball season means some teams that made moves during the offseason are going to be short-changed. Teams that traded for players in the final season of their contract or signed free agents to one-year deals face the prospect of getting around 60 games from those players, not 162. That’s unfortunate for fans, but it could actually serve to maximize the impact of the players on their new teams if things go well.

Here are five players on new teams in 2020 who are set to become free agents after the season, and could be one-and-done with their new clubs.

5. Marcell Ozuna, Braves

Ozuna joined the Braves on a one-year deal in the offseason to help bolster an already solid offense. He’s fresh off hitting 29 home runs with the Cardinals, the second-highest tally of his career. Entering his physical prime, Ozuna should be poised for a strong season, even if his .312 average and 37 home runs in 2017 increasingly look like a one-off. Perhaps Atlanta will help him get back to that, even if his stint there is brief.

4. Didi Gregorius, Phillies

Injuries hit Gregorius hard in 2019, which is why he has to be looking forward to 2020. A healthy Gregorius is a 25 home run hitter who can hit .270 or .280 with strong defense. Playing in the hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park means Gregorius could have been poised for a big year. An abbreviated season would hurt his numbers, and if he can’t get into the swing of thing, it could hurt his free agency. The Phillies will hope that doesn’t happen, because if he gets hot, they’ll benefit big time.

3. Edwin Encarnacion, White Sox

Encarnacion has hit at least 30 home runs in eight consecutive seasons. Combine that with a move to Guaranteed Rate Field for 2020, and the White Sox must be very excited about what their new slugger may be able to do. The White Sox have high hopes for this season, but a shortened season may not benefit them if they need time to gel. The good news is Encarnacion has plenty of experience, especially in the American League, and ideally won’t need too much of an adjustment process.

2. Cole Hamels, Braves

A delayed start to the 2020 season actually somewhat helped Hamels, who would have missed time had it started in April. The 36-year-old is no longer the undisputed ace he was in his prime, but he’s still a very effective and crafty pitcher. Another player who signed a one-year deal, Hamels was expected to add steadiness to the Atlanta rotation. His starts will be limited in a short season, but if the Braves can make it to the playoffs, his experience and strong playoff record could make his one year stay a memorable one.

1. Mookie Betts, Dodgers

The Dodgers traded several key pieces to land Betts, who’s entering his final season before free agency. It was one of the biggest moves of the offseason, and it could end up paying dividends for little more than 50 or 60 games. Still, the former AL MVP can do a lot even in a short season. Posting an OPS over .900 would be the bare minimum expectation, and his defense in center should improve the Dodgers as well. If Betts can help Los Angeles to a World Series, the deal will be worth it, even if his time in L.A. proves to be unfortunately brief.

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