This isn’t the first time that the Cincinnati Reds have been linked to Marcell Ozuna, but that rumor won’t die, either. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic talked about several rumors of note in his piece yesterday evening, but a few of them involved the Reds. It’s clear that the Reds are still looking to improve their offense. Ozuna’s got a big time season under his belt, in 2017, when he hit .312/.376/.548 and posted a 149 OPS+. But he’s also never come close to that season again. He’s been slightly above-average in the two years since.

Including his big season in 2017, over the last four years, Marcell Ozuna has hit .277/.339/.478, good for a 119 OPS+. To put that in perspective, Jesse Winker has hit .285/.379/.466 over the last three seasons, good for a 120 OPS+. Offensively, on a rate basis, they are the same caliber of hitter. The big difference is that Ozuna has played nearly every game over the last four years – racking up 2464 plate appearances in that span. He would certainly help the offense – he is an above-average hitter. The question that needs to be asked is if the upgrade he’d provide would be worth the contract he’d get. And that question has more than a few variables to it, including ones that don’t involve Ozuna at all.

Reds interested in Japanese outfielder Shogo Akiyama

Back near the end of October we wrote about how Shogo Akiyama could potentially be on the Cincinnati Reds radar. As a center fielder in Japan he’s always hit, but there are some concerns that he’s been losing a step and may not be able to stick there much longer. Mark Sheldon of is reporting that Cincinnati is interested in the outfielder. And it does make some sense if their scouts believe that he can provide some defense in center (even if it’s just as an insurance as a back up to Nick Senzel), while adding some offense to the team playing all three spots.

Starling Marte and what it would take to acquire him

The Pittsburgh Pirates continue to shop Starling Marte. The outfielder is under contract for the next two seasons. In 2020 he’s owed $11.5M and in 2021 he’s owed $12.5M or a $1M buyout. Every season of his career, with the exception of 2017, he’s been better than a league average hitter. Last season he hit .295/.342/.503, good for a 120 OPS+. That’s hit best offensive season since 2014. In his career he’s spent more time in left than in center, but since Andrew McCutcheon departed, he’s taken over as the every day center fielder for the Pirates.

Jon Heyman of MLB Network notes that the Pirates are looking to move him and that they are seeking a “young, controllable catcher”. There’s not a more specific definition there. It could mean they are looking for a catcher already in the Major Leagues with multiple years of team control. Perhaps they are looking for a prospect catcher that’s close to the Majors.

If it’s the latter, well then the Cincinnati Reds could match up well. That’s not to say they should trade Tyler Stephenson – I’ll leave that up to the reader to decide the merits – but he is among the best catching prospects in the game, coming off of an above-average season in Double-A and a stint in the Arizona Fall League with an OPS over .900.

Cross Didi Gregorius off of the list

The Philadelphia Phillies are going for it. They just signed shortstop Didi Gregorius according to Joel Sherman. Terms have not yet been disclosed, but it does take the Reds out of the free agent shortstop market. If they are going to land an upgrade at shortstop it’s going to have to come from the trade market, now.

Mystery teams in on Gerrit Cole

Does anyone know if Bob Castellini invented a new fruit? Because there’s two mystery teams reportedly getting in on the Gerrit Cole sweepstakes according to Bryan Hoch of After the deal that Stephen Strasburg signed with the Washington Nationals yesterday that was for 7-years and $245,000,000, the Cole sweepstakes are expected to push $300,000,000 in total.

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.

28 Responses

  1. JB

    Didi got 14 million. Reds couldn’t do that? I’m not sold on Galvis. I know the Reds dont want a guy on the bench with 5 million dollar contract but this is why you dont pickup the option. Its early so they have time. Who knows. Maybe they are the mystery team in on Cole.

    • earmbrister

      It could’ve come down to Didi wanting to reunite with Girardi. Or perhaps the Reds might feel the risk is > the return. IMO, the Reds need a solid option at RF more than a marginal upgrade at SS. Sign Puig to a similar (to Didi) one year prove it deal. Or another solid RF option who will be ok backing up Aquino (no, not Corey Dickerson). Aquino needs the bulk of the work, but the Reds need to have a plan if Aquino flames out.

      • Jack

        No thanks I’ve seen enough of Puig. Can’t walk, strikes out too much and for every spectacular throw he’ll throw it to the wrong base twice and loaf a fly ball into a hit. For a big strong dude his power was underwhelming in a homerun hitter’s paradise.

    • Optimist

      This really sounds like confidence in Girardi, but wonder if the Reds had offered 2/25 would that have accomplished it? That, or perhaps it’s just a bit steep for a 1-year which may include less than complete recovery.

      Meanwhile, Gausmann to the Giants for basically the full-pay arb amount. Clearly into their rotation from the start, which is good for him, and good for the Reds on passing on that amount and commitment.

      Interesting that both are 1-year deals so we may revisit them next winter. Wonder if Homer or Harvey have anything left, and who takes the flyers on them?

    • Wes

      It was a hard pass on Didi. Reds could have offered him 2/28 and he would have signed in cincy.

  2. AllTheHype

    Not disappointed to pass on Didi. It depends on whether you think his age 30 season will be like his 2019, when he was slightly better than replacement level, or his 4.7 WAR 2018.

    For OFs, I would strongly prefer Castellanos over Ozuna all things being equal. But the $ they are asking for are probably not equal, so there is the conundrum.

    Winker + Ervin platoon > Ozuna

  3. Norwood Nate

    Still hope no on Ozuna. He’s the one guy I really wanted the Reds to steer clear of.
    In my opinion, unless the Reds believe they’ll sign Realmuto next season, you don’t trade Stephenson for Marte. Now if they’d want Tucker plus other prospects not named Nick or Hunter then I’d love to add Marte. Akiyama would be interesting as he could rotate through the OF and his OBP would be a plus at the top of the lineup. I do think they need to add offense to the OF.
    Bummer on Didi, but I understand the appeal of playing for your former manager and signing a one year deal.

  4. Steves

    I would trade Stephenson for Marte for two years (1 year with a option. Not really high on Didi but I would look for a upgrade from Galvis, Lindor would be nice but not likely. Spend money on Madison and the star from Japan.

    • Scott C

      No way I trade Stephenson. He is the best catching prospect we have had since Meserasco and Drandall. But I would trade Barnhart and some other prospects. Like Norwood Nate as long as their names are not Nick and Hunter. Anyone else go for it. Marte would look good in a Reds uniform.

  5. Steve Schoenbaechler

    This is what I talked about with the Reds this season, and I will include something.

    I’ve stated the Reds are going to need to get creative this season to really help the offense, I believe. They need OBP, I believe. One main example being, they hit so many more HR’s this past season than the prior season, but only scored one more run. So, with the current FA market, little pickings there to increase OBP. With current league availability, they are going to need to get creative with trades.

    Or, go get Shogo. If he can replicate that OBP, I believe he could be a big boost for this team.

    But, then, that’s something else. So many risks, also. For, I have stated that I could see the Reds standing pat with what they had, and betting that the young studs and Votto will step it up. Even an increase of 10 pts per in OBP in each of those players I believe would go a long way with the team, and I don’t believe that’s too far fetched at all.

    But, it’s a risk, a bet. It’s not necessary something you can count on. Even with Shogo, how much of a risk is it going to be that he can hit the pitching in this league?

    • Ed

      Give the Cubs that salary relief they want and bring schwarber home, and trade for Robbie Ray.

  6. Mark

    Will say again…trade for Salvador Perez. Best trade option at catcher and Reds have the prospects to get him. Solves the most “holes” one player (not named Lindor) can for the Reds.

    • JB

      I thought about him as well. Didnt he sign a big contract last year?

      • Mark

        $14.2 mill for ‘20 and ‘21 ($28.4 mil total)

    • Wes

      Why would KC trade him ? Hes value is at all time low. You would have to way overpay to get him and not necessarily in prospects but like eat the whole 28 million. I have always like Perez but 14 mil for a catcher who may not be able to produce is a hefty risk.

  7. Steven Ross

    Once again, nobody here knows. It’s all conjecture and speculation. It makes for good copy but unless you’ve tapped DW’s phone, you’re throwing mud against the wall.

    • JB

      Exactly true. Nobody knows. I’m just not sold on Galvis. Keep kicking the tires though.

  8. MBS

    I like Shogo, he’d be a nice piece. He feels more like an insurance policy to the Reds outfield.

    Marte is more of a sure thing, and a game changer.

    Ozuna would be one of my last choices for an impact bat. I’d rather try to resign Puig, he’d be less expensive, and a better fielder.

    I know it’s not my money, and if they want to sign Cole, I’m in, but I’d be very happy with Keuchel.

  9. Not Corky Miller

    Going off the deep end in Dec are we?

    They wisely didn’t overpay for a catcher that will be 35 by the time that contract is up. There’s a reason they are keeping James McCann. Because Grandal will DH 50+ games and will be like Victor Martinez in a couple years. Guess what we don’t have in the NL?

    They also wisely didn’t overpay to get DiDi – who at $14 million isn’t that much better than Galvis. He’s going on a one year prove it deal. It would have take an over pay to get him here – no thanks.

    What have the Cardinals done? No bullpen. No third baseman. An outfield of Fowler, Bader and ONeill impresses you?

    Cubs and Brewers are retooling. Pirates are rebuilding.

    The Reds are already better and still have money and prospects. They should Let the market come to them.

    Yeah, let’s cancel the season.

    • Buster

      I totally agree with Corky Miller, it’s not even mid-December…they’ve already signed a lefty power bat. I’m hoping they don’t sign Ozuna, would rather see a deal for Marte or similar type CF or sign Akiyama. Here’s a thought, if they get a CF where does Senzel go? How about to 2B, Suarez came up as a SS and Moustakas is a natural 3B! I realize this means new defensive players at 3 positions, but nobody will be playing “out of position”. So you’d have Marte, Akiyama, or whoever they acquire that’s a natural CF and hopefully a top of the order bat plus an above average infield and money left to get a starter and a reliever or two.

      • Doug Gray

        No, he’s not. And he needs to stop using that user name – it’s against the site commenting guidelines.

  10. CFD3000

    Ozuna is at the bottom of the list in my eyes. Castellanos, Akiyama, Puig, Dickerson and Marte would all be better options than Ozuna. As Doug notes above and several have commented Winker + Ervin >> Ozuna. Save the money.

    At this point I think the Reds have two untouchable prospects – Lodolo and Stephenson. They should be pitching and catching for the Reds for at least 6 years each. But if a package of lesser prospects, perhaps adding in Iglesias, Barnhart, Casali, Galvis, or even JVM gets you a couple years of Lindor, Seager, or some other impact shortstop then by all means. Then focus on one or two solid upgrades to the bullpen and 2020 starts to look very promising.

    I’m hoping that the Alaniz move and two open slots on the 40 man roster are hinting that Williams and Krall are lining things up for those changes. But please no Ozuna. That’s a backwards move – no improvement to offense or defense, but a hit to payroll flexibility. No thanks.

    • Rob

      I think the Reds have more enticing trade prospects than Barnhart, Casili, Galvis, et al. If you want Marte, and dont want to yield on Stephenson, I would be thinking some combination of Winker, Ervin, Bob Steve, and Greene. 2 plus a minor league throwin. I wouldnt go any higher. Pretty good package for a rebuilding team I would think. Some #1 picks.

      • Doc

        I wouldn’t go that high for two years of Marte.

  11. Doc

    Puig was supposed to be deadly in GABP, but wasn’t. What makes anyone so sure Dickenson wouldn’t?

  12. Doc

    If Didi took a 1 year deal, then he apparently thinks he is worth more than he was being offered and is gambling that he will be all the way back and will score big next off season.

  13. Roger Garrett

    The Reds just like everybody else will have to over pay to bring free agents to Cincy.Its not always about the money and is often if a guy wants to come here which adds to the over payin.Didi or Grandal may not have come here regardless of the money we threw at them.Moose helps but we have JVM or even Senzel if we get a centerfielder to play second.They both have an upside but Galvis/Tucker don’t so for me we must continue to look at upgrading at short and behind the plate.We missed out in doing so but again there may be trades in the making.