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.

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.

Photo of Marcell Ozuna by Ian D’Andrea. Photo has been modified slightly to fit the ratio of the site. License can be found here.

26 Responses

  1. Rut

    I am on board with paying for Ozuna. It also makes sure he isn’t with the Cards, so that helps too.

    Issue, as always, is time and $. I would be ok with 5yrs, $70ish. Just hope we don’t have to overpay to get a guy like that (as Doug mentioned, good but not great tier of player). 5/$85 or $90 would just not be worth it… but 3/$50 or $55 would.

    Would be willing to pay some extra on a shorter deal, or give more years and less AAV. There is always a price point at which you have to walk away, and I do not think our current FO is willing to pay a sucker price. Hope we can sign him for a reasonable cost!

  2. Datdudejs

    Noooo, just sign Puig for cheaper. I don’t know why anyone would give Ozuna the amount of money he’s asking for.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      We’ve seen what Puig is — a very good defensive player but not an impact bat. I’d much rather give Aquino a try every day in right field than re-signing Puig. And that being said, I’d rather have a proven Castellanos in right field than Aquino, because the Reds will need proven talent if the objective is to go for the playoffs.

  3. Datdudejs

    Ozuna- 29 years old- .241 .328 .472 and bad defense and expensive

    Puig- 28 years old- .267 .327 .458 with good defense and will be much cheaper and already familiar with your team and well liked

    It’s a no brainer to me

    • MBS

      100% agree. Now time for the crazy. Trade Suarez for Lindor + prospect (mid level). Sign Rendon. Payroll would up about 50 M or so, but the offense would be great.

      Opt Lineup (60%)
      Senz 2B, Lindor SS, Rendon 3B, Wink LF, Aquino CF, Votto 1B, Puig RF, Barn C
      Lefty Lineup (20%)
      JVM LF, Lindor SS, Rendon 3B, Wink RF, Votto 1B, Jank CF, Galvis 2B, Barn C
      Righty Lineup (20%)
      Senz 2B, Lindor SS, Rendon 3B, Aquino CF, Ervin LF, Votto 1B, Puig RF, Casali C

      • MK

        So you are interested in giving up 6 years of Suarez atv a very favorable rate for a one year rental of Lindor for more money in 2020 with Lindor’s contract than Suarez’s. I would rather overpay for Didi and keep Suarez too. Suarez and Rendon are a wash.

        I would rather have Puig than Ozuna but I question whether it would be cheaper.

      • MBS

        If you can get the arguably the best SS, and 3B in the game, I say go for it. If the control of Suarez wasn’t there he wouldn’t bring Lindor. I know Arenado is probably slightly better, but it’s splitting hairs.

        Rendon .319 BA, .412 OBP, 1.010 OPS, 34 HR, 86 SO
        Suarez .271 BA, ..358 OBP, 9.30 OPS, 49 HR, 189 SO

        I love Suarez, but it’s not a wash

        Lindor .284 BA, .335 OBP, .854 OPS, 32 HR, 98 SO
        18 Didi .268 BA, .335 OBP, .829 OPS, 27 HR, 69 SO
        19 Didi .238 BA, ..276 OBP, .718 OPS, 16 HR, 53 SO
        *if Didi can return to form he’s a good option, but that is a big gamble for a team wanting to go for it.

      • MBS

        Also he has 2 years of arbitration left, not 1

  4. Hotto4Votto

    Pass. I really hope the Reds don’t sign Ozuna. He’s not enough (if any) of an upgrade over Winker/Ervin platoon. Winker posted better OPS+ numbers last two seasons.

  5. Scott C

    I actually prefer if they sign an outfielder to look at Dickerson, it is not as flashy a signing but I think overall he brings more overall on both sides of the plate. Other than that I would prefer Castellanos. I still prefer they sign sign Didi or Moose. Or make a trade to upgrade catcher or shortstop

  6. Steve Schoenbaechler

    I can’t help thinking we have offensive numbers like Ozuna’s with what we already have. We need better offensive numbers.

    One good season, sure. But, that’s one season only.

    I’d move on to someone else.

    This is why I was thinking, if the Reds aren’t creative, I’m not sure how they are going to get offense in here this season.

  7. KDJ

    Grandal was one that would have upgraded catcher and all of our pitchers as well. Big miss on that one. Spending for upgrades from slightly below average to slightly above average won’t get it done. I’ve been a Reds fan since the BRM days. I don’t expect that return to glory, but something like a 1990 team seems achievable. However, they need to actually make big upgrades when they can and avoid the spate of injuries and underdevelopment that has been the story most of this decade.

  8. doctor

    also, a No on Ozuna, like several previous posters. No only the $ but also cost a draft pick going after Ozuna. If going down this road, then focus on Castellanos, who is younger and shown to be more consistent hitter, 120 OPS+ over last 3 years, and does NOT cost any draft picks. Ozuna, outside of his one monster outlier year in 2017, has not reached the level of production of Castellanos.

    The real signing miss sure seems to be Grandal.
    Oh to change history and keep Didi and Grandall instead of trading them. LOL.

    • Doug Gray

      The draft pick would be a third rounder. Here’s the list of Reds 3rd round picks since 1995 who have accumulated more than 0.5 CAREER WAR:

      Tony Cingrani.

      That’s it. That’s the list.

      • Redsvol

        Doug – you’ve stated my complaint about Reds without even meaning to – unless Reds draft a player in 1st round, they aren’t making it to the minor leagues – terrible player development for too long.

      • Doug Gray

        I think you should probably go take a look around baseball – no one is constantly drafting major leaguers beyond the first round.

        Tony Cingrani, for example, is far and away the most valuable 3rd round pick in the 2011 draft. He’s worth as much as the next two players combined.

      • doctor

        Yep, Doug. I understand your point on 3rd round draft picks. But just because the Reds have failed drafting any decent 3rd rounders does not mean the pick has no value. Here are some more “notable” 3rd rounders in that same time frame.
        Randy Winn/27.6 bWar,
        Bronson Arroyo/23.7,
        Ryan Dempster/18.8
        Justin Morneau/27.2,
        Grady Sizemore/27.3,
        Curtis Granderson/47.3
        JA Happ/21.8,
        Brett Gardner/41.6,
        Jonathon Lucroy/18.0,
        Craig Kimbrel/19.6
        Kyle Seagar/30.4,
        JT Realmuto/17.6

      • Doug Gray

        So less than 1 per year for every team in baseball?

        Tony Cingrani, for example, is far and away the most valuable 3rd round pick in the year he was taken. Like, double the career WAR of any other two combined players from that round. The odds are incredibly against any given pick being all that useful in the Major Leagues among the third round.

    • Doug Gray

      The Reds draft just fine. I’m not going down the detailed road on that one again because I’ve done it more times than I can count and despite the evidence, people don’t want to hear it. The only thing that the Reds have failed at doing in the draft for a long time is drafting a super star. They draft big leaguers with a high rate of success. They just haven’t drafted a super star since Joey Votto.

      International stuff wise – it’s money, plain and simple. For two decades (and earlier) they didn’t spend what other teams were spending, or even come close to it. The New York Yankees, in one year (I want to say it was 2011 or 2012), signed more Top 30 international prospects than the Reds had signed Top 30 international prospects in a decade plus. You just aren’t going to land guys when other teams are spending 7-figures on guys every year and you are signing four 6-figure guys and hoping. The rules are different now, so it will be interesting to see, a decade from now, how that alters things in this area.

      Pitching development, though, has clearly been a big issue.

  9. Redsvol

    please no Ozuna. I’d much rather pay for Castellans and Wheeler. Phillip Ervin can mimic a reasonable Ozuna.

    • Goat

      Take the aOzuna money and put it towards pitching, ie, Bumgarner, Wheeler, Hamels. Sign Corey Dickerson and trade away Winker and Barnhart and get aclint Frazier to be the center fielder. After Barnhart is gone, sign Castro for your catcher.

  10. Sabr Chris

    I’m just confused by the interest in corner outfielders. On paper a Winker/Ervin platoon would provide allstar level production. Unless the Reds believe September is really Aquino or they are toying with the idea of him in center (he’s had a whole 5 games of minor league experience). Either way, none of them will really move the needle in trade talks.

  11. TR

    Dick Williams, with good connections to the ownership, is running the show. Nick Krall worked in the A’s front office from 2001 to 2003. He’s a graduate of LSU. It seems to me Krall is an assistant to Williams regardless of his title.

  12. David

    Ozuna’s xwOBA was .380. Puig’s was .329 with the Reds and .340 with the Indians.

  13. CFD3000

    Ozuna would be my fourth choice for a free agent corner outfielder, behind Castellanos, Dickerson and Puig. The Reds are in a strange spot. With Hamilton gone and Peraza no longer the starting 2nd baseman (or SS) they don’t have anyone who is, when healthy, an awful offensive player. That makes big upgrades tough. Shortstop is the biggest problem area, but there’s no one in free agency that’s a clear, big upgrade. Gregorius might be a big step up, but he might not. Maybe the strategy is to accumulate pitchers and trade for a Lindor, or a Seager, or someone’s blocked stud prospect. But it’s going to be tough to upgrade from okay / pretty good to excellent at more than one or two spots if that. The likeliest offensive upgrades may come from luck (better health for Winker and Senzel), maturation (Senzel and JVM and maybe O’Grady and Ervin), and adaptation (Votto). All those guys – Votto, Winker, Senzel, and JVM are capable of 110-120 OPS+ years. Add in a renewed focus on patience and improving OBP instead of the Turner Ward all or nothing approach and the Reds could have a very good year at the plate in 2020 without any free agent upgrades. Or… not. It’s a quandary.