Last week, we learned the Reds were finalizing a deal to bring on Shogo Akiyama to bolster the outfield. We haven’t yet heard the specific numbers, but word is that it is for three years and a bit more than $20 million. I absolutely love this move. The Reds had to add a quality outfielder this offseason and Shogo is that. And at a reasonable price!
So one might think this would preclude the Reds from bringing on the likes of Marcell Ozuna, who is also an outfielder and also will cost quite a bit more moolah than Shogo, but here we are:
The market for Marcell Ozuna may be gaining some clarity. According to a source, the Reds, Cardinals and Rangers are among the teams still making a push for the slugger. Other teams could still be in play, but these three appear to be the frontrunners.— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) January 2, 2020
On the surface, this seems a bit unexpected. With Nick Senzel, Jesse Winker, Aristides Aquino, and now Shogo in the fold to patrol the grass (not to mention Philly Ervin and Josh Van Meter), it seems they have plenty of viable outfield options to build a competitive lineup every day. And moreover, Senzel and Winker are not far removed from being among the best hitting prospects in the organization. Not only do they have the potential to be everyday players, but they could be All-Stars (you can certainly make that case for Aquino and Shogo, as well). But its important to keep in mind that of all the outfielders on the current roster, not a one of them can be considered an established everyday player. Adding a guy like Ozuna, who would play left field pretty much every day, would dramatically reduce opportunities for the young fellas. And to be fair, it’s not like Ozuna is a top performer himself. He made the All-Star team in 2017 and won the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger, but his two years in St Louis were most definitely not on that level.
Ozuna is a safer bet to be a quality contributor in 2020, but less likely to breakout. Somebody call the Property Brothers because he have classic floor vs. ceiling debate. If it were up to me, I’d skip Ozuna, play the kids, and make a move at the deadline if necessary.
But when reading this bit in the context of everything else the Reds have been up to this offseason, I get the sense that it is part of a puzzle with a lot of moving pieces. Signing Ozuna would certainly make it more palatable for the Reds to trade one or more of their good young outfielders for upgrades elsewhere. If the Reds are going to make a big aggressive headline-making trade for the likes of Francisco Lindor or Trevor Story or Carlos Correa or whatever, it’s gonna cost them dearly. And Nick Senzel is probably the dearest player the Reds have in the organization. I still think he’s the next Alex Bregman and I really don’t want to lose him, but getting Lindor to play shortstop would certainly take the Reds from interesting to legitimate World Series aspirant. Game ain’t free.