MLB Free Agent Profile: Marcell Ozunaby John Lepore November 22, 2020 1 comment
Free agent Marcell Ozuna will be a hot commodity this offseason. While he played most of his games at designated hitter last season, Ozuna is still an above-average fielder at each of the corner outfield spots. As one of the premier bats on the market, he should cash in.
Ozuna was signed as an amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2008 at the age of 17. After spending a few years crushing baseballs in the Miami Marlins system, he was called up to the big club on April 29, 2013. His first full season came in 2014 when he blasted 23 HRs and drove in 85 runs. It was the first full season of the young outfield core of Ozuna, Giancarlo Stanton, and Christian Yelich. The following Ozuna suffered a hand injury. Although he did play 123 games, it sapped his power and he wound up with just 10 HRs.
In what would be his final year in Miami in 2017, Ozuna hit his prime. He slashed .312/.376/.548 with 37 HRs and 124 RBIs. He even won a Gold Glove in his first full season in left field. That offseason would be the end of the “Big 3” in the outfield as Ozuna, Yelich, and Stanton were all traded away. The St. Louis Cardinals acquired the Marlins All-Star left fielder for Sandy Alcantara, Daniel Castano, Zac Gallen, and Magneuris Sierra on December 14, 2017.
After spending the next two seasons in St. Louis, he was offered the Qualifying Offer by the Cardinals at the end of 2019. Ozuna turned it down and signed a one-year deal with the Atlanta Braves for $18 million. He proved to be worth every penny. Ozuna led the National League in HRs (18), RBIs (56), and fell just .013 short of a triple crown batting .338. He helped the Braves get to the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers slashing .255/.283/.490 in the playoffs while driving in 11 runs in 12 postseason games.
There aren’t too many teams who wouldn’t want Ozuna hitting in the middle of their lineup. He just turned 30 on November 12 and had his best season, albeit in a shortened one. As one of the premier bats on the market along with George Springer, Ozuna should be looking for a four to six-year deal worth around $20-$25 million per year.
Top Landing Spots
After the Nationals declined the option on Adam Eaton, it left a hole in their outfield. Although Ozuna hasn’t played much right field in his career, he has been a good defender there in limited duty. His arm is above average and would fit just fine in right field allowing the Nats to keep Juan Soto in left and Victor Robles in center. Money isn’t an issue for Washington as the Lerner family has proven they will spend. This is a very good fit as Ozuna’s right-handed power bat would slot in nicely behind Soto from the left side. As an added bonus, the Nats get to take Ozuna away from the Braves and keep him away from their other division rivals.
Boston Red Sox
Runs weren’t hard to come by for the Sox this season as they scored 292 of them, good enough for fifth in the AL. However, the losses of Jackie Bradley Jr. and Kevin Pillar leave a spot open in the outfield. Ozuna would fit in nicely among lefties Andrew Benintendi, Rafael Devers, and Alex Verdugo. As far as Ozuna’s personal value is concerned, he couldn’t ask for a much better park to call home than Fenway.
Chicago White Sox
Edwin Encarnacion is a free agent after a dismal .627 OPS this season. Nomar Mazara hit one HR in 149 PAs this year as the primary right fielder. Ozuna is a significant upgrade over both. With the White Sox window open wide, they are going to want to make a move. While another starter and a bullpen arm or two still should be Chicago’s focus, adding Ozuna to an already potent lineup would set them up to win some slugfests over the next few years.
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