The market for free-agent slugger Marcell Ozuna is “moving forward,” reports Craig Mish of SportsGrid, and the Rays are among the final few teams involved in the mix. A deal is not yet imminent, per the report. Tampa Bay is something of a surprise entrant, though MLB Network’s Jon Heyman recently indicated interest on the Rays’ behalf.
At the time, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweeted that Ozuna would only land with the Rays in the event of a “major shift” in his contract goals, suggesting they’d likely only be serious players on a one-year deal. Mish, however, writes that Ozuna’s eventual deal is expected to be for either three or four years. Additional reports out of the Dominican in recent days connected Ozuna to the Rays enough that he took to Instagram to stress that he does not have any sort of agreement with Tampa Bay.
As for the incumbent Braves, a reunion is still possible, Mish adds. Earlier this morning, MLB.com’s Jon Morosi tweeted that Atlanta “continues to be the favorite” to sign Ozuna. The Braves, of course, received elite production at the plate from Ozuna in the shortened 2020 season, but their interest in him — as is the case with many NL clubs — has been somewhat tempered due to the lack of agreement on the return of the designated hitter in the National League.
One fringe suitor likely disappeared when the Twins agreed to a new deal with Nelson Cruz earlier this week. Technically speaking, Minnesota still has room to add Ozuna and play him in left field, but that seems decidedly unlikley. Cruz always appeared to be the Twins’ top target, but reports in the past couple of weeks indicated that after a months-long stalemate, they’d at least considered pivoting to Ozuna.
It at least worth an anecdotal mention that one of Ozuna’s former clubs, the Cardinals, has a suddenly less-crowded outfield picture after trading Dexter Fowler to the Angels last night. There’s been no indication the Cards would make a serious run at Ozuna — they’re reported to be more in the market for rotation help — but a considerable shift in the outfield mix for a suddenly motivated buyer who knows Ozuna well has already led to some speculation among fans.