Coming off another successful season, Marcell Ozuna will be a very coveted free agent. However, the Cincinnati Reds should steer clear of the outfielder.
Marcell Ozuna will be one of the most coveted free agents on the market when the offseason begins. However, while the Cincinnati Reds may be looking to upgrade the outfield and the offense, signing Ozuna would be costly.
Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer wrote a piece a few weeks back about possible additions to the Reds this coming offseason. In speaking with president of baseball operations Dick Williams, it was revealed that the front office wants to add to the outfield mix of Aristides Aquino, Jesse Winker, Phillip Ervin, and perhaps, Nick Senzel.
While some fans may feel as though Aquino has locked up a starting spot on next year’s team, Williams doesn’t feel the same way and said that The Punisher will have to earn the starting job in right field. Here’s a quote from Williams via the Cincinnati Enquirer:
"“We will need to add to that outfield mix. The good thing is we feel comfortable with the way we mix and match to put guys in a position to succeed. If one of those guys wants to take off and play his way into an everyday role, then that’ll be upside.”"
With that in mind, should the Reds want to enter free agency in search for outfield help, St. Louis Cardinals left fielder, Marcell Ozuna, would be a name to consider. However, it appears as though signing Ozuna may have strings attached.
Mark Saxson of The Athletic is reporting that the Cardinals plan to extend a qualifying offer to Ozuna. While Saxson believes that Ozuna will turn down what amounts to a one-year deal worth $17M-plus. If Ozuna receives and rejects a qualifying offer, a team that signs the slugger to a new deal will have to sacrifice a draft pick.
Draft picks have become more valued of late, likely due to the inexpensive contract a young, promising player is under for the first several years of his major league career. We saw last offseason that teams were leery of signing free agent pitcher Dallas Keuchel to a deal due to the qualifying offer extended to him by the Houston Astros last season.
Ozuna would be a solid addition to a Cincinnati Reds squad looking to upgrade the offense. Though his last two seasons in St. Louis did not match his 2017 campaign with the Miami Marlins, Ozuna has exceeded 2.0 WAR the last two years with the Redbirds. Over his last three seasons, Ozuna averaged 30 home runs and 100 RBIs.
What Ozuna could make on the open market is anyone’s guess, but he’d likely exceed the 5-year/$60M contract A.J. Pollock signed last offseason. Michel Brantley’s AAV of $16M might be more along the lines of what Ozuna could receive and even that may be a little low.
Despite the Cincinnati Reds desire to upgrade the offensive firepower of the outfield, if Ozuna is saddled with a qualifying offer, he’s not the answer. The Reds front office would be better serves to go after Nicolas Castellanos, as his trade to the Cubs at the deadline voids Chicago’s ability to extend a qualifying offer to the 27-year-old.
Personally, I believe Cincinnati will look to add to their outfield via trade rather free agency. While Ozuna, who’s power numbers are very respectable, would increase the offensive profile of next year’s Reds squad, it won’t be worth the multi-million dollar contract and draft pick forfeiture.