Just before the new year rang, the Cincinnati Reds reportedly came to an agreement with Japanese outfielder Shogo Akiyama on a 3-year deal per multiple reports, though Nikkan Sports had it first. Once it’s official it will mark the first time in the long history of the Cincinnati Reds franchise that they’ve had a player from Japan on their team – giving every team in Major League Baseball at least one. While not yet official, that deal is coming. And it leaves the Reds with *checks notes* eleventy-billion outfield options as they get ready to head to spring training. But they aren’t done looking at outfielders yet. Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reported this morning that the Reds are among teams making a push for Marcell Ozuna.
The offseason has been an interesting one for Marcell Ozuna’s free agency. Reports came out early last month that he was about to sign with the White Sox, but that report turned out to be false. There has been plenty of interest from multiple teams, and the Cincinnati Reds have almost always been mentioned in those reports.
The signing of Marcell Ozuna comes with the loss of a draft pick. That draft pick for the Cincinnati Reds would be their 3rd pick – not worth worrying over. For other teams that pick may be more valuable as they may have to give up a higher pick. MLB Trade Rumors predicted Ozuna to sign a 3-year deal for $45M when they released their Top 50 free agents back in November. Fangraphs Kiley McDaniels was a little higher on Ozuna, suggesting he’d get a 4-year deal worth $70M.
Steamer is a bit higher than Marcel is – both in terms of playing time and in terms of the slash line, but both would be productive.
What this rumor tells us, assuming it’s true, is two different things. First, the Reds still have plenty of money to spend. Ozuna was projected to get at least $15M a year for multiple seasons. While we don’t know exactly how much money the deal with Shogo Akiyama is worth, if it’s in that $5M-7M per year range, then the current payroll sits around $125M for 2020. We’ll have an updated payroll post soon with a more detailed breakdown soon.
The other thing that it tells us is that something else could be on the horizon. Again, if we assume that there’s truth in this rumor then that means the Reds could be looking at these players as outfielders: Nick Senzel, Marcell Ozuna, Shogo Akiyama, Jesse Winker, Aristides Aquino, Phillip Ervin – and then a slew of guys who normally would fit into that 4th or 5th spot. Even just leaving it with the named players, there’s not enough playing time to go around for those who seem like they should be playing most days.
Having too many good options is never a problem. Except when maybe it is? If you have a player that’s got value, but you aren’t using them enough to get that value, it may be better to trade them away for equal value at another position that you can get that value out of. Right now this is just speculation, but if the Reds were to also sign Marcell Ozuna, it certainly feels like there would have to be something else coming in the form of a trade. The outfield at that point would simply seem to be too crowded, with too much extra value sitting on the bench.