Including the St. Louis Cardinals, outfielder Marcell Ozuna looks to have around seven teams that are looking to secure his services for 2020 and beyond, according to Jon Heyman. With the offseason just about ready to ramp up, it remains to be seen which players will be able to finally cash in and secure big-money deals for the foreseeable future.
Ever since Ozuna was acquired by the Cardinals back in 2017 during the Winter Meetings, his tenure for the Redbirds has been very up and down, especially with the type of lore that he had when he was acquired. Once the Cardinals missed out on the real prize, fellow Miami Marlins outfielder and 2018 National League Most Valuable Player Christian Yelich (who was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers prior to Ozuna being dealt), then their focus shifted to Ozuna, who has paled in comparison to the type of impact that Yelich has made for his new squad.
From countless defensive miscues to offensive droughts that once made Ozuna a household name, his time in St. Louis may come to an end much sooner than most had thought when he was first acquired. But for the Cardinals, they may decide to bring him back on a two or three-year agreement for more money than he is due, especially since the market looks to be ripe for free agents this offseason.
Both of Ozuna’s seasons in St. Louis have failed to live up to his best career year in Miami, as 2017 represented his best – and final – year playing home games in the state of Florida. While 37 home runs and 124 runs driven in are both difficult stats to replicate on a yearly basis, Ozuna’s power numbers and average have plummeted enough for some to question if that season was more of a fluke than anything.
For a power hitter to average .243 over the course of 131 games and 129 starts, Ozuna’s strikeout numbers increased a bit too, as his 2019 season saw him whiff 114 times, four more than in 2018 and register as his fourth-most to date. His 2.09 season WAR was his third-lowest amount in a season and the lowest since his 2015 season, which was his third with the Marlins and third in the big leagues.
Teams would be smart to go after Ozuna, but not for the type of player that he used to be. His limited defensive abilities, coupled with his willingness to not take enough walks, projects him to be more of a designated hitter who has the ability to fill in for an outfield spot once every four days if needed. A team like the Toronto Blue Jays, Chicago White Sox or the Cincinnati Reds would be smart to sign him, as his talents still play, but just not as well as they used to.
While not a complete and total loss, the deal that got Ozuna out of a Marlins jersey and into a Cardinals jersey should be considered a deal that the Marlins won, handily, even if he does end up resigning with St. Louis. With the prospects that the Marlins received in return for Ozuna, combined with the already-paid money and the subsequent next contract that Ozuna will earn this winter, that money has not brought enough postseason success to the Cardinals to make them all that happy about this move.
Two years later, and it is safe to say that the Cardinals would be best suited to move on from Ozuna, unless they can resign him for under-market value, which is highly unlikely, especially since he is most likely going to turn down the $17.8 million Qualifying Offer that the team just recently offered him.