The Chicago Cubs could make a major free agency splash by signing Marcell Ozuna, but is it the right move?
This Chicago Cubs offseason has an air of finality to it. Much of the core will hit free agency after the 2021 season, marking a brand new era for the team as they enter the great beyond. This will be the last chance that much of this core will have to win together at Wrigley, but the offense needs a push to get them back to the promised land.
Braves outfielder Marcell Ozuna would be a massive bat that could carry this team back to the World Series in theory. He’s been a very stable bat throughout most of his career, reaching great heights with his 2017 campaign and MVP-caliber play in 2020. Moreover, he could slot right in at left field if Kyle Schwarber is traded away in the offseason.
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Ozuna has a career 117 OPS+ and has just come off a season in which he led the league in home runs, RBIs, total bases, led the majors in plate appearances, and posted an OPS+ of 175. He’s only had two years in which his OPS+ dipped below 100, which came early in his career, meaning that since 2016, he’s been at least a league-average hitter. The one mark against him is his strikeout percentage, which is slightly higher than average at 21.2% for his career.
In terms of defense, Ozuna’s been solid in left field, winning a gold glove with the Marlins in 2017 and putting up a total of 15 DRS at the position so far. That grades out a lot better than Schwarber’s -12, and with a better bat, this seems like a superb acquisition. However, there are more significant necessities that the team needs to address first and foremost.
For one, the Cubs would likely be better off going with someone with a higher average and greater on-base skills like Tommy La Stella or Michael Brantley. Both of these options are going to come at a lower price tag than Ozuna and better address the team’s “home run or bust” approach at the plate. Furthermore, the pitching rotation is more uncertain than ever with Jon Lester, Jose Quintana, and Tyler Chatwood hitting free agency.
Ozuna would still be an excellent edition for this Cubs team, but it is worth questioning if that money would be better spent elsewhere. Given this team’s massive needs and the severe rework needed for the offense, it’s probably best to spread that money out. Still, a 2020 caliber Ozuna is tempting to consider.