After back-to-back All-Star seasons with the Miami Marlins in 2016-17, Marcell Ozuna was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals. Although he didn’t quite perform at the same level as he did in Miami, Ozuna still posted solid numbers in his time with St. Louis. Last offseason, the 30-year-old turned down a $17.8 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals in hopes of landing a lucrative multiyear contract. However, that never came to fruition, and Ozuna signed a one-year, $18 million deal with the Atlanta Braves.
Ozuna was looking to re-establish himself as an offensive force with a big 2020 campaign before he became a free agent for a second straight year. Well, he did just that, leading the National League with 18 home runs and 56 RBI and posting a .338/.431/.636 slash line in an abbreviated 60-game season. The only drawback in Ozuna’s game is his defense. Once considered a stellar outfielder, Ozuna has become a below-average defender the past few seasons. If the designated hitter does not return to the NL in 2021, Ozuna could receive more interest from American League teams.
Top Landing Spots for Marcell Ozuna
So, let’s take a look at the top three potential landings spots for Marcell Ozuna.
After the impressive numbers that Ozuna put up for the Braves this season, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where the team doesn’t hotly pursue him. It was not only his work on the field that contributed to Atlanta’s success, but he was also a great fit in the clubhouse. Ozuna paired well with young, exciting players like Ronald Acuña Jr. and Ozzie Albies and even added his own flair to the team. The most memorable of which was his “selfie” pose after hitting a solo homer against the Cincinnati Reds in the Wild Card series.
However, if the NL doesn’t adopt the DH in 2021, the Braves might go after a more capable defensive outfielder. With players like George Springer, Michael Brantley, Jay Bruce, and Jackie Bradley Jr. available in free agency, Atlanta’s front office have plenty of options to pursue. They also have two capable prospects in Cristian Pache and Drew Waters, who could step up and man the outfield at Truist Park.
Chicago White Sox
The Chicago White Sox were one of the most aggressive teams in free agency last winter. Chicago signed Yasmani Grandal, Dallas Keuchel, and Edwin Encarnación and gave José Abreu a new contract. As a result, they made the postseason for the first time since 2008. The White Sox will now be looking to take the next step after being eliminated in the Wild Card series at the hands of the Oakland Athletics. Signing a player like Ozuna would do just that.
It’s also worth noting that Chicago was reportedly close to a deal with Ozuna last offseason before he signed with the Braves. Both Nomar Mazara and Encarnación were significant disappointments for the White Sox last season, so they are prime position to add another big bat.
The Texas Rangers were one of the frontrunners in the Ozuna sweepstakes last offseason. Although they didn’t land him, they have another crack at it this offseason. It’s safe to say that they could use him. As Mark Feinsand of MLB.com noted, “Based on the Rangers’ offensive ranks — they were last in the American League in both runs scored and OPS — they could have used him. The Rangers’ left fielders had a collective four home runs with a .594 OPS, and their DH spot produced a league-worst .575 OPS and four home runs.”
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels did admit that they were committed to giving their young players a bulk of the playing time. However, Ozuna would be a huge addition to a struggling lineup on a team that is looking to get back into contention.
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