Rumor: Marcell Ozuna ‘very unlikely’ to accept Cardinals’ qualifying offer
St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Marcell Ozuna is unlikely to accept the qualifying offer from the Redbirds and will instead elect to test his market in free agency, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network:
Word is, Marcell Ozuna very unlikely to take the $17.8M qualifying offer. Middle of order hitter believed to have nice market. Had been seen as one of only maybe 3-4 players of the 10 to receive the offer with even remote chance to accept the QO.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 9, 2019
Ozuna had a respectable season in his second year with the Cardinals, slashing .241/.328/.472 with 29 homers and 89 RBI while posting a career-high 12 stolen bases.
The Santo Domingo, DR native — who will turn 29 on Tuesday — was acquired by the Cardinals after a spectacular 2017 campaign with the Miami Marlins in which he won a Silver Slugger award. However, he has struggled to replicate that same success in St. Louis.
Nonetheless, there should be a suitable market for Ozuna. He had a tremendous series in the NLDS against the Atlanta Braves, and the outfield market is extremely weak with veteran Brett Gardner likely to return to the New York Yankees.
The Cardinals figure to allow Ozuna to walk in free agency. Youngsters Tyler O’Neill and Tommy Edman could replace him in the outfield, and Ozuna has become somewhat of a defensive liability because of a shoulder injury that has all but decimated his arm in left field.
St. Louis is more likely to accept the compensatory draft pick attached to Ozuna should he decline the qualifying offer. The Cardinals struggled to score in 2019, but the versatility of guys like Edman could lead to a pursuit of Josh Donaldson or Anthony Rendon in free agency.
Ozuna may not make $18 million annually, but his age and slugging potential make him a likely candidate to receive a multi-year deal worth more in terms of guaranteed value.