Jon Morosi of MLB Network continues to note that the Cincinnati Reds are looking at free agent outfielder Marcell Ozuna. He noted on MLB Network’s Hot Stove show that they were one of five teams interested in his services, joining the Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Braves, and the Rangers.
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) November 22, 2019
Morosi mentions that it looks like there’s an idea that Marcell Ozuna would get a 5-year deal. That would be a big difference from what MLB Trade Rumors predicted for him, which was a 3-year deal at $45M total.
In 2019 Marcell Ozuna hit .241/.328/.472 in 130 games for the Cardinals. On one hand, that average was very low. On the other hand, his walk rate jumped up to an all-time high and while everyone on their mother showed more power thanks to the juiced baseball, he certainly didn’t disappoint in that area as he had an Isolated Power (SLG-AVG) of .231 – well above-average.
With that said, his 107 OPS+ was a little better than league average, but didn’t really jump off of the page. Digging a little deeper, you can see reasons to believe he could take a big step forward. As noted, his walk rate was the best of his career in 2019 – that’s usually a good sign. His BABIP was easily the lowest of his career – coming in at .259 during the 2019 campaign. He has a career .315 BABIP. If his BABIP normalizes to his career rate, he’s due for a big improvement assuming everything else he did in 2019 remains the same.
He’ll he 29-years-old next season, so even a 5-year deal isn’t going to push him into his late 30’s where you have to worry about just how much production you’re going to get. He’s still a solid defender in the outfield despite some hilarious miscues….
As it is with everything, it will come down to whether or not the Reds are willing to spend the right amount of money over the right amount of years that makes sense for both themselves and for the player.
After losing out on Yasmani Grandal, who likely represented the single largest upgrade available at a position on the market that was in their range (Anthony Rendon or Gerritt Cole may represent larger upgrades, but aren’t going to be options the Reds look at) – Marcell Ozuna could be one of the next options that could be there to upgrade the offense.
If you can get something closer to the 2017 version of Marcell Ozuna, the one who posted a 149 OPS+ and 6.1 WAR, that’s a huge upgrade. But, that’s really the only season in which he’s been that kind of player, too. That’s the upside, but not the likely outcome. He’s in that next tier down range with guys like Nicholas Castellanos, Mike Moustakas, and Didi Gregorius – flawed players with some upside, but also ones that come with a question mark or two.