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Cincinnati Reds rumored to have interest in OF Marcell Ozuna

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Of course!

Cincinnati Reds v St Louis Cardinals - Game One Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Anthony Rendon is an in-prime MVP-caliber offensive dynamo who just reached free agency on the back of a dream year. He’s going to sign a contract in the $250 million range a la Nolan Arenado, and that’s the kind of money that pretty well has the Cincinnati Reds priced out of signing him, unfortunately.

However, if you’re an offensively proficient position player free agent not named Rendon, it would appear you’re going to at least get one call from a Reds rep. They’ve already been reportedly in touch with the likes of Yasmani Grandal, Howie Kendrick, and Didi Gregorius, and according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, the Reds have interest in OF Marcell Ozuna, as well.

You might notice that Ozuna, 29, is an outfielder. You might also notice that each of Jesse Winker, Nick Senzel, Aristides Aquino, Phil Ervin, and Scott Schebler (kinda) play outfield, too. You might notice that there are only three outfielders on the field at one time. That would certainly make you wonder if Senzel might be destined to return to the infield (2B) if the interest in Ozuna comes to fruition, but that’s merely a side note at the moment.

The real point is, I suppose, that Reds collective OFs combined for a sub par 94 wRC+ last year, the 19th worst mark in all MLB. Unsurprisingly, none of the teams with a worse number made the playoffs last year, either. Ozuna, meanwhile, bonked 29 homers en route to a 107 OPS+ and 110 wRC+ for the St. Louis Cardinals, both of which would help augment the Reds offensive options in 2020 and beyond.

Ozuna is far from an ideal upgrade, however, as while he’s certainly more established than the options that the Reds have in-house, he’s not head and shoulders better than they are, and at this juncture of his career is no longer a viable CF. He’s also only the owner of a .327 OBP in 1177 PA over the last two years, and that paired with his slipping defense means he’s been little more than a ~2.5 WAR player in each of those seasons. In fact, outside of his brilliant 6.1 bWAR campaign in 2017 - his final year with the Miami Marlins - he’s produced a total of 13.4 bWAR in his six other seasons combined.

Is that good? Yes, that’s good. It’s also much more reliable to bank on for 2020 than what the Reds have in-house. But given what he’s estimated to cost to get signed - as well as the upside potential of the younger Reds OF already on the roster - perhaps the Reds would be better served spending their resources elsewhere. Unless, of course, the Reds intend to use some of their current young OF depth in a trade to address a different area of need and intend to backfill with a signing of Ozuna...

[insert Francisco Lindor dream scenario here].