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 Reds.com 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.
#Phillies are in agreement with Didi Gregorius
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) December 10, 2019
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 MLB.com. 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.