With little in the way of hot stove news during the rising action of the MLB postseason, let’s take a look ahead to this winter’s free agency. In particular, we’ll be evaluating the market for a player who could prove to be one of the offseason’s more intriguing cases: Cardinals outfielder Marcell Ozuna.
After he was traded from the Marlins to St. Louis as part of the post-2017 fire sale in Miami, Ozuna has endured a pair of unspectacular seasons as a Cardinal. That’s not to say he’s been bad, but expectations were high after he slugged 37 home runs in his last season with the Marlins. His struggles in 2018, when he totaled only 23 round-trippers, can be at least partly be attributed to a nagging shoulder injury that plagued him throughout the year and ultimately required surgery. This year, with a healthy shoulder, he has enjoyed a nice uptick in his power numbers, though that has still only translated to a slightly above-average .804 OPS.
When the Cardinals postseason comes to a close, Ozuna will have a chance to hit the open market for the first time, reaching free agency as a 28-year-old outfielder. (He’ll play the 2020 campaign at age 29). That places him among the younger options from which teams will choose, making him arguably the most attractive of this offseason’s outfield class, which is a relatively thin one.
Ozuna, for his part, has expressed a desire to remain in St. Louis beyond this year, calling it a “priority” to ink a contract that will keep him with the Cardinals. However, the Cardinals may not share his enthusiasm for a reunion. John Mozeliak expressed hesitance to discuss an extension with Ozuna, instead opting to postpone that matter until the offseason. Other, cheaper options within the organization could replace Ozuna in the corner outfield, with Tyler O’Neill and Dylan Carlson seemingly ready to contribute.
It seems like a good bet that the Cardinals will tender a qualifying offer to Ozuna, which figures to come in at around $18MM this offseason. That designation would force a signing team to forfeit a draft pick in order to acquire Ozuna’s services.
Many teams might not be convinced that Ozuna is capable of returning to the power numbers that he displayed on his way out of Miami. Still, there are promising signs: Ozuna ranks among baseball’s best in terms of exit velocity and hard-hit rate, both of which are at career-best marks. His expected statistics—which calculate the expected outcomes of batted balls based on exit velocity and launch angle—paint him as one of the premier offensive performers in baseball.
Another point of concern will be Ozuna’s defensive shortcomings. Although there’s a Gold Glove Award on his mantle, Ozuna has provided little value as an outfielder since departing Miami. He grades as below-average in Statcast’s outs above average and outfielder jump metrics—ranking in the 13th and 29th percentile, respectively. On the positive side, he is credited with 2 DRS, thanks in large part to a strong throwing arm. That’s not a bad mark at all, but teams may be hesitant to project that performance into his thirties as he seeks a multi-year deal.
Could Ozuna be a candidate to accept the qualifying offer? Sure, there’s a solid chance that he could eclipse the total value with a multi-year contract on the open market (though almost certainly at a lower AAV), but accepting the one-year deal could grant Ozuna’s wish to stay in St. Louis and attempt to rebuild his value, perhaps with an eye on a contract extension with the Cardinals or another chance at free agency following the 2020 season.
As we all well know, the free-agent landscape has been notoriously cruel over the last two years, and Ozuna feels like a player who could be strongly affected by the evolving market. As a bat-first left fielder nearing his thirties, teams might be reluctant to invest heavily in a profile that depends mostly on offensive production—which, generally speaking, has been underwhelming since Ozuna joined the Cardinals. If Ozuna and his reps get an inkling that his free-agent market may not be as expansive as they hoped, that could give another reason to regroup and return to the Cardinals under the qualifying offer.
However, the allure of a multi-year contract with a total guarantee exceeding that of the QO may be too much to resist for Ozuna, a first-time free agent in his prime years. Even if his most likely outcome is a two- or three-year deal with an AAV of about $13-16MM, Ozuna may not have another chance to test the open market as arguably the best player at his position. That alone might incline a team to overpay for him. Regardless, as we head towards another offseason of intrigue, Ozuna may be a name to follow in a free-agent class that lacks star-power position players.
curious how Ozuna’ steals have increased this year.
stan lee the manly
That’s not curious at all. That is 110% attributed to Schildt being the manager, the Cardinals went from being ultra-conservative to very aggressive on the bases and he has been encouraged to run this year. Their team stolen base numbers are way way up.
the point is that i didnt ecpect Ozuna to steal double didgets in steals in any situation, regardless of how agressive the manager was.
Darkside, is English your first language?
That’s a great new word!
Ozuna didgets 12 steals!
is dickish yours? who tf allowed all the grammar police on this thread. it’s baseball, ya dinguses, not journalism. twerps actin like spellcheck isn’t their girlfriends – so lame!
I’m surprised he doesnt have more this guy used to man cf for the marlins and play good defense he used be very fast not sure about now.
Back to marlins ? Lol
How about a poll on how much he’ll get in free agency?
Show Me Your Tatis
What happened to the Cardinals not letting guys they traded for get to FA?
He’s not worth it. Period.
I could see him in SF. Plays LF and makes an outfield of Ozuna/Pillar/Yastrzemski with Dickerson on the bench.
Doubt it, unless theres not a whole lot of interest. This guy likes the east coast it’s a shorter flight to the dominican rep. All the $ being equal he’d end up nl or al central or nl or al east. Now if the giants overpay then yeah he’ll end up there.
He’s coming off of a down year, so I doubt he gets more than 15M annually, and he’s always done damage when he’s come to Oracle, so I doubt the park will be a big factor especially for his pull-power.
i thought the giants played at at&t.
I think 5 years at 15 million with the last 2 years being team options would be interesting…..
One of the craziest ideas for a FA’s preferences. Planes fly out of everywhere bruh, and money trumps all.
I agree. But non tender pillar. Ozuna, Dugger, Yastremski. That make more lineup sense
Duggar isn’t a very good center fielder
He is a good center fielder, he is a pretty terrible hitter.
thats a terrible OF lol
I’ve seen him connected to the White Sox a few times this season, in articles. That seems like a reasonable fit from the outside.
Ozuna, like many hitters, is very streaky. Just when you get completely frustrated with him, he goes on a tear for a week to ten days.
Ozuna isn’t worth anything more than a year to year deal.
He has a strong throwing arm?? Are you kidding me? Have you watched him throw?
Exactly, fangraphs has him at +2 DRS and a +1.7 arm for the year. People may have tested his arm and gotten thrown out but he doesn’t not have a “strong throwing arm”
Exactly! You could not view the Cards’ left fielder for one game and come away with that opinion. His shoulder is shot.
His decline is due to laziness. He clearly hasn’t worked on his game and is relying solely on talent.
It’s not even a decline. This is more par for the course for Ozuna. 2017 seems to be an outlier. 2014-2016: .265/.316/.433, averaged 18-20 home runs a season, 106 OPS+. 2018-2019: .263/.327/.452, averaged 25-30 home runs a season, 107 OPS+. Really, only his home runs have increased, but everyone’s home runs have increased since 2016, so it’s not that much of a surprise.
McCutchen 3/$50m with no QO.
Brantley 2/$32m with no QO.
Ozuna… 1/$8m with QO? Moustakas territory.
Ozuna accepts QO. If it’s offered. It Guessing it won’t be.
Good interesting points!
Cutch and Brantley were both 32, 4 year age difference. I’d be surprised if the cards didn’t offer the QO and just let him walk
Cards will offer him a QO $18 mil is nothing. O’Neil and JMart are odd men out see O’Neil getting dealt for some prospects.
Had some bad BABIP luck this year and is a good bounceback candidate if MLB keeps the bouncy ball. That said, don’t think teams should be looking for him to ba anything but a below avg LF on D.
Bouncy ball is going away…..
Ozuna might be a good fit for Chisox. We should have pursued Michael Brantley last year instead of wasting all our time with Machado and his friends & family!
The Sox need a solid defensive RF with 30/100 potential at the plate. I realize those aren’t exactly plentiful this offseason, but the Sox can’t gamble with a defensive liability at both corner OF positions.
We, our?? You part of the organization running propaganda?
Boy…… I bet you wished you traded for yelich instead?????
Derp, go back and look at the timeline of how that all went down and then look again at your uniformed comment here to see how wrong it is. He wasn’t available until Ozuna and Stanton were both traded. That’s why and when he demanded a trade.
Derp? Derp what? Because you believe what Mozeliak and the puppet STL MEDIA told you? Yelich was always available, but Mo overvalued his propsects once again and missed out on Yelich. Some of the Cards fans simply can’t or won’t think for themselves. Or they really need that wool trimmed back from their eyes?
hey cpap we had no clue you’re a marlins insider!! but fr you’re gettin a lil off the rails. look stuff up before you post. we all have the same resources. you look/sound/post kinda dumb af. #woolypap #cpapinyourgrandpap #woolypapi
I agree if the cards would have thrown in Reyes and CMart in the trade Yelich would have been Cardinal too. Oh well Mo did something right they are in the NLCS.
Buyer beware. The guy is on PEDs and will get caught eventually,,,guaranteed!
You all are harsh lol… First of all, he isnt a PED candidate.. Would have already been caught by now. I see a guy that came into his own and then put up a stellar year and hurt his shoulder the same year… It takes a hot minute to recover and the arm strength is the last to come around… You can’t fake a gold glove idc how many steroids you take! He is a vwry talented player and I think next year will prove that when he is 100% and I honestly hope he is hitting right behind Goldy for a long time to come
Yes and Muncy is not on PEDs either.
An undeserving GG winner. You hit, you help your chances to win the award. That’s the reality. Cards are better off without Ozuna and go much further without him and the price tag he will command.
The Jays should sign him for sure. Oh wait on second thought those mighty Twins should.
Lies. Nobody will ever accuse you of using thought.
“Lies” Just remembering yours about the Twins a couple of months ago Jay-boy. That was just another of your troll jobs.
I figured you wanted to bring up something I said about two months ago. The weak typically hold onto things and don’t let it go. Now that you have I’m sure it’s wonderful not to have that burden anymore. Then again you danced around it before I helped pry it out of you. You’re welcome.
As for the Twins, yes, I was wrong. I felt this 2019 team could beat the Yankees and it appears I will be mistaken. I’ll own it and admit my mistake. Even if the Twins miraculously comeback and win (which I’m 99.9% sure they won’t), I’ll own my mistake in believing the Twins could hang with the Yankees.
Now that I have shown you what real accountability looks like, maybe try some of that in your everyday life. Your anger and hatred for people probably isn’t healthy. I wish you well. You need it.
well not this year. who tf in stl is hitting better than ozuna in this first postseason series? which counts more post or reg season? he’s been productive you’ve just wanted more. y’all act like it’s coming out of your wallets. disappointing attitude for a player with a crazy ceiling that actually wants to be in stl. over-privileged fanbase with exuberant annual expectations. appreciate what you have while you have it. i’m truly surprised matheny isn’t your social handle
english what? did you forget your glasses grandpa? are you asking for spin? #BrainPlease
lol O i get it, you just don’t understand some of the usage so you resorted to thinking you were leaving a witty comment. i remember my first days on the ‘net, grampy
He’s worth the 14MM of Cole colhouns option. He’s not nearly as good of an outfielder, but he his a better presence at the plate.
He’s the next panda… throws up a few numbers in the postseason and people will over pay for him. Sure he’s not as fat (albeit heading that way), but he’s really tanked during the regular season. He’ll have no problem finding a team but I won’t be surprised if someone way over pays for him
tanked? lol are you talking about carp or ozuna? he was all star bound before his injury lil man. don’t bs a bs’er
I say he resigns for less than what he is looking for years and money I say maybe 3 years 50 mill but if not I see the Indians as a possible destination always looking for OF help and a decent bat to put in between Lindor and Jose
Provided John Mozeliak will add a #1 or #2 Starting pitcher and a perineal .300 impact batter, I really think Ozuna would sign with the Cardinals on a 4 Year $60-$75 million dollar contract. He sees pennants in St. Louis with all of the young talent. Plus he flat out loves the St. Louis Fans!!
Given that the 2019 off season has such a barren landscape for gold glove/all star type outfielders, my opinion says the Cardinals try to sign Ozuna to a contract somewhere in the 5 yr 90-95million dollar range. There is no animosity between the St. Louis front office, and Ozuna, but over paying for this guy is certainly out of the question. So in the end, the two camps either come together on a solid contract, for a solid player, or the Cardinals retain him with a QO somewhere in the 18 MIL range, and Marcel Ozuna is the starting right fielder for St. Louis in 2020
Good lord, I hope the Cardinals don’t sign Ozuna for FIVE YEARS! One or two, maybe.
Ozuna’s arm is worlds better than last season after going under the knife but it’s still not good and he’s had some odd defensive miscues in his time with the Redbirds.
Mozeliak traded for this guy as a 2 year stop gap in lf. He’s got no intention of going all in. That being said I sure hope he signs the QO. Would make ol Johnny Bowtie stroke out if he can’t get 200 K’s O’Neill out there.
Never been impressed with Ozuna. Streaky, defensive liability. Always wondered why when both Yelich and Ozuna were available and Yelich at the time was cheaper Mo would go after Qzuna. O’Neill is not the answer,