MLB Free Agency, Tampa Bay Rays

MLB rumors: Surprise team enters Marcell Ozuna sweepstakes

As Marcell Ozuna remains available, a surprising team has emerged as a potential free agent suitor.

Last offseason, Marcell Ozuna signed a one-year deal with the Atlanta Braves. It was a bet on himself as much as anything, and he delivered with a .338 batting average, a 1.067 OPS, 18 home runs and 56 RBI (both NL-leading). As an outfielder/DH type, American League teams have been among the rumored free agent suitors for him.

The Minnesota Twins reportedly had an offer in on Ozuna before re-signing Nelson Cruz Tuesday night. As other teams have filled lineup voids, Ozuna seems likely to sign somewhere soon. According to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, a surprising suitor has emerged.

Heyman cited the lack of the universal DH for the coming season as an impact on Ozuna’s market. While he’s not a stellar defensive outfielder, Ozuna has played in the National League for his entire career to this point.

The Rays must see something in Marcell Ozuna

Cruz has agreed to a one-year, $13 million deal to go back to the Twins. So now there’s a possible barometer for Ozuna’s value, with the fact he’s 10 years younger than Cruz worth noting.

The Rays have to mine value wherever they can, so whenever they even entertain making a major move it’s eye-opening.

A look at Ozuna’s Statcast page shows at litany of deeper metrics (exit velocity, hard hit rate, barrel rate, xSLG, xBA, xwOBA) in the 94th percentile or better last year. A look at other years in his career shows a bunch of red shades in some of those same numbers, signifying at least top 10 percent of the league. So 2020 was just part of his batted ball track record, and a progression.

It’ll probably only be a one-year deal, but if the price is right the Rays may indeed get Ozuna. Then the teams that bypassed him, for whatever reason, may wonder what they missed.

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