It had not previously been anticipated that Ozuna would require any kind of procedure, though it also does not seem to be a particularly concerning outcome at this point. The rehab schedule is not expected to limit Ozuna’s ability to report for full participation in Spring Training.
Ozuna’s ailing shoulder was a significant problem for him over the course of the 2018 season. The issue seemed to place a drag on his productivity all year long, until a late-season cortisone shot that helped spur a strong run to finish out the campaign.
In the aggregate, the Cardinals did not get the kind of output they hoped for when they acquired Ozuna, who compiled a career-best .312/.376/.548 slash with 37 home runs for the Marlins in 2017. He completed his first of two seasons of club control for the St. Louis organization with a merely above-average .280/.325/.433 line and 23 long balls. Ozuna projects to earn $13.4MM in his final season of arbitration eligibility.
There are several questions going forward. For one, there’s still some reason to wonder whether Ozuna’s big ’17 campaign was truly representative. After all, he rode a career-high .355 batting average on balls in play. The Cards obviously felt the outburst was sustainable and now believe he can get back to that level in what will only be his age-28 season. But the team will first need to see whether Ozuna’s shoulder can recover.
That’ll depend in part upon Ozuna’s own efforts at rehab, of course, and that’s a subject that president of baseball operations John Mozeliak raised recently. As MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reminds, Mozeliak offered some notably public advice for Ozuna. “If he’s diligent and puts himself in a position to prepare and have himself in a place where his shoulder is not preventing him from playing at his full potential, then I think the sky’s the limit for him,” said the club’s top baseball ops executive.