The GM Meetings are underway, and it’s no surprise that the Reds rumors are beginning to surface. Cincinnati is said to be interested in Marcell Ozuna.
Strap yourself in folks, because the offseason is here and with it comes a lot of Reds rumors. The latest rumor comes courtesy of Jon Heyman, an insider at MLB Network, who claims Cincinnati has some interest in free agent outfielder Marcell Ozuna. Ozuna has spent the past two seasons playing in St. Louis for the division-rival Cardinals.
This latest rumors shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone, as Dick Williams made it clear that the club is looking to make upgrades to the Reds outfield. After Nick Senzel and Jesse Winker finished the 2019 season on the injured list, Williams reasoning is sound. Aristides Aquino emerged as a potential starter in right field, but the 25-year-old has just 57 major league games under his belt.
Ozuna might not be the only outfielder’s name rumored to be on Cincinnati’s radar this offseason. Nicholas Castellanos and Corey Dickerson are two free agents who are likely to pique the Reds interest as well.
Ozuna’s price tag, which is sure to be steep, isn’t the only drawback to pursuing the 29-year-old from the Dominican Republic. Ozuna was extended a qualifying offer by the Cardinals, meaning if he signs with another club this offseason, that team will have to forfeit a draft pick to St. Louis.
The Reds, typically not big spenders, don’t seem willing to sign a player to a long-term deal and give up a draft pick. So, while I’m sure there’s some merit to Heyman’s reporting, I doubt that Ozuna’s terribly high on the Reds wishlist in terms of offensive upgrades.
In addition to forfeiting a high draft pick, the Reds, who are in need of offense, may not be getting the best offensive outfielder on the market if Ozuna is their target. Though he did slug 29 homers last season, Ozuna batting average and on-bas percentage have taken a nose dive the past two seasons.
After hitting .312 with a .924 OPS in 2017 with the Miami Marlins, Ozuna was traded to the Cardinals. The past two seasons combined have seen Ozuna slash .263/.327/.452 with 52 home runs and 177 RBIs. While those numbers aren’t terrible, they’re trending in the wrong direction. For the salary that Ozuna’s likely to command, the production doesn’t match up.
Marcell Ozuna may very well be on Cincinnati’s radar, and snagging him away from St. Louis definitely wouldn’t do the Cardinals any favors. We’ll see if these latest Reds rumors have much life in the coming weeks, as the hot stove is sure to heat up.