Marcell Ozuna Would Be a Perfect Fit for the Boston Red Soxby Kyle Porch November 14, 2020 2 comments
While fixing the pitching staff should still be Boston’s top priority this offseason, outfielder and designated hitter Marcell Ozuna makes too much sense to let him sign elsewhere.
With the inevitable departure of Jackie Bradley Jr. this offseason, the Red Sox can easily fill that gap with guys like Bobby Dalbec, the prospect who made quite the name for himself last season. Over his 92 plate appearances, Dalbec slashed .263/.359/.600 for a very impressive 152 wRC, though 2020 showed us that there’s still a lot for Dalbec to prove. The biggest positive takeaway (to the surprise of no one who followed him throughout the minors) was the power. Quite simply, the 25-year-old can destroy the baseball on a regular basis. His first career hit, fittingly, was a home run. He ended up hitting eight of them on the year. Over 600 plate appearances, that works out to 52 homers in a season.
After signing a one-year deal last winter, Ozuna tore it up. In 60 games, he hit .338 with 18 homers and 56 runs batted in, while making crazy grabs in the outfield. Ozuna became a driving force for an extremely talented and young Atlanta Braves squad. The talent is there, as well as the connection with Red Sox pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez. However, the front office is hesitant to throw money around; they fear going over the luxury tax yet again after finally coming in under in July.
While Ozuna made some nice plays defensively, he also benefited from the NL designated hitter rule in 2020. His path to re-signing with the Braves practically hinges on that rule staying around. If it does not, he could find suitors in the American League. If in fact, the Red Sox do sign him this offseason, they could shift Andrew Benintendi from left field to center, leave Alex Verdugo in right, and slide Ozuna in to guard the green monster.
Not to be forgotten is the damage he has done in a small sample size at Fenway Park. In three games in Boston, Ozuna went 6-for-14 (.429) with a double, four home runs, and eight RBI. Three of the four home runs were mammoth shots over the towering green wall in left field. Ozuna ranks in the league’s top 40 batters with 45 percent of pitches pulled this season according to FanGraphs, so the Green Monster is easy target practice for his right-handed bat. The Red Sox have been trending towards power hitters over the last few offseasons, so why change course at this stage of the game?
If the team truly goes all-in to create a championship roster, they started well with the re-signing of manager Alex Cora. With Tanner Houck, that’s one less pitcher you need to sign for a depleted pitching staff. Sign a couple more arms and then make your home run move. Whether it be for Ozuna or in the trade market for a guy like Cleveland’s Francisco Lindor, they could have a title-contending team just like in 2018. This could be the first offseason that general manager Brian O’Halloran is allowed to open the wallet and build a contender.