It seems that the situation of free agent outfielder Marcell Ozuna is beginning to achieve some clarity. The Reds, Cardinals, and Rangers are not only still interested but “appear to be the frontrunners” for his services, per MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand (via Twitter).
While some market segments have already been deprived of their top options, the best right-handed-hitting corner outfielders remain available. Indeed, the group only expanded at the non-tender deadline, when Domingo Santana and Steven Souza were added to a slate that already included Yasiel Puig, Nicholas Castellanos, and Marcell Ozuna. Somewhat older veterans Cameron Maybin and Hunter Pence are also available for teams interested in righty bats.
The Brewers have inked Avisail Garcia to a $20MM contract, which set down a fairly strong market marker. But the demand situation isn’t quite as strong as might’ve been hoped for by this group. It has remained difficult to ascertain whether there’ll be a major bidding push, even for a group that features youth and established hitting ability.
The trio that Feinsand names on Ozuna has been tied to him previously, so in that sense it’s no surprise. But it’s interesting to see those teams involved at this stage. The Cards have laid low this winter but have said all along they won’t rule out a move to retain Ozuna. The Rangers have funds available to bolster their outfield unit and add some pop to the lineup after missing on Anthony Rendon.
Most interesting of all is the Reds. The Cincinnati organization reportedly agreed to terms with left-handed-hitting center fielder Shogo Akiyama recently, though that’s not yet official. If that contract goes through, it’d give them a ton of options in finishing off their roster. Adding Akiyama already sets the stage for at least a few minor moves for the Reds. Going on to pick up Ozuna or another corner piece would have even more significant implications for the remainder of the team’s winter — and the rest of the market.