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Marcell Ozuna down to Cardinals, Rangers, per Spanish language report

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A report out of the Dominican Republic indicates the Cardinals and the Rangers are the finalists for free agent outfielder Marcell Ozuna

League Championship Series - St Louis Cardinals v Washington Nationals - Game Three Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

MLB Rumors: Marcell Ozuna will likely be a Texas Ranger or a St. Louis Cardinal, based on a report by Neftali Ruiz, a reporter for El Dia out of the Dominican Republic. Ruiz has a story in Spanish, which you can read here, which seems to indicate that the Cincinnati Reds are no longer in the mix, and the primary contenders for Ozuna are the Rangers and the Cardinals, with the Cardinals being Ozuna’s preferred choice.

Hector Gomez offers a translation of a quote from Ozuna in the article here, saying that it is a question of which of the two final suitors — the Rangers and the Cardinals — he will end up with, and saying that if the Cardinals “step up” then he will stick with the Cardinals.

Ozuna, a 29 year old righthanded hitting outfielder, was acquired by the Cardinals from the Miami Marlins after a 6.1 bWAR, .312/.376/.548 2017 season. Ozuna has regressed since then, however, putting up a 5.1 bWAR over the past two seasons with a .262/.327/.451 slash line. As we discussed in a post last week, which involved the Rangers being mentioned as one of the frontrunners for Ozuna, his batted ball profile suggests that he’s hitting too many hard-hit routine 6-3 grounders, which is depressing his overall line.

I’m mystified about what the Rangers would do with Ozuna if they signed him, given that he doesn’t appear to have the range to play center field or the arm to play right field. While Ozuna was a center fielder in his early days in Miami, he has played exclusively left field the past two seasons.

Theoretically, they could put him in left field, Shin-Soo Choo in right field, Joey Gallo at first base, and Willie Calhoun at DH. Alternatively, they could try putting Ozuna back in center field, at least for 2020, and then re-evaluate once Choo is off the books after 2020. I almost have to wonder if they aren’t considering Ozuna at first base, as well, given that’s where they would really need him.

In any case, the fact that Ozuna is being quoted as saying that he really wants to go back to St. Louis rather than signing with the Rangers (or “los Vigilantes de Texas,” as they are dubbed in the article) isn’t terribly encouraging about the possibility of signing him. Personally, I’d rather see Castellanos get signed as a first baseman, and then see what can be done about third base and center field.