Free-agent outfielder Marcell Ozuna has seemingly identified his top two remaining suitors. Ozuna suggested to Hector Gomez of Deportivo Z 101 (hat tip to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale) that he’s deciding between his latest team, the Cardinals, and the Rangers. He indicated that the Cardinals are his preferred choice.
The 29-year-old Ozuna is coming off a solid two-season run in St. Louis, which acquired him from Miami entering 2018. Ozuna was then fresh off a 5.0-fWAR season with the Marlins. He wasn’t as effective as a Cardinal, but he did post a pair of productive years with the club. Ozuna put up 2.6 fWAR in 2019, when he slashed .243/.330/.474 with 29 home runs and a career-high 12 stolen bases over 549 plate appearances.
On the heels of Ozuna’s quality showing last season, the Cardinals began the winter by issuing him a $17.8MM qualifying offer, which he rejected. But it has been difficult to find another obvious suitor since then for Ozuna, and the Cardinals did just weaken their outfield depth by trading Jose Martinez and Randy Arozarena to the Rays.
Meanwhile, the Rangers have recently been connected to Ozuna and the other most prominent free-agent outfielder, Nicholas Castellanos. It seems the club has some leeriness in regards to the long-maligned defensive abilities of Castellanos, whom it apparently views as more of an infielder than an outfielder. But there’s no doubt that Ozuna’s an outfielder, and he’d fill the Rangers’ need in the grass in the wake of their Nomar Mazara trade with the White Sox. However, one of the big questions is whether the Rangers will pony up for Ozuna, who – along with forcing the team to cough up a substantial amount of money – would cost them their second-highest draft pick in 2020 because he turned down a QO.