It’s no secret the Cardinals offense has been struggling. Is it time to add a big bat?
The Cardinals are not a good hitting team. That much has been established. Through two months of the season their offensive numbers are in the bottom half of the league. Their rotation is keeping them in it, but sooner or later the bats are going to have to start waking up.
At this point, waiting for the bats to wake up on their own seems like a no go. Maybe, just maybe, the Cardinals can jump start their offense by adding a new piece through trade. Say, a power hitting outfielder that is currently on the market. Meet Marcell Ozuna.
Ozuna can straight-up mash. Right now he’s enjoying a break out year to the tune of .329/.392/.569 with 14 bombs. Ozuna was an All-Star last season, albeit a borderline one, but this year he’s been a revelation for an otherwise struggling Marlins team. Also, have you seen those number because My God! Imagine him hitting in Great American Ballpark every couple of months. It would be bombs away. Ozuna is only 26, so if he’s ever going to break out, this would be about the time it would happen.
Another pro to trading for Ozuna is that he’s on a relatively cheap deal and under team control until 2019. If Ozuna can continue to hit like he has been, he’ll become a real weapon in NL Central race this year and in the future. This wouldn’t be a rental trade. Trading for Ozuna makes him a cornerstone of the team for the next couple of years.
Finally, a major benefit is that Ozuna plays a serviceable outfield. He’s best in left field, but he doesn’t negatively contribute at any outfield position, which is more than I can say for the current Cardinals outfielders. On a team that has major defensive issues, a decent outfielder can only help.
I hate to be the bringer of bad news, but there are a lot more cons than pros to signing Ozuna. First of all, his offensive eruption, though remarkable, is probably not sustainable. His HR/FB rate is 18.4% which is waaay above league and his own career averages. His BABIP is .370 which is 50 points above his career average BABIP. If the Cardinals trade for him and suddenly he regresses to the mean, it would be a huge bust which brings me to my next point…
…Ozuna is going to cost the Cardinals a lot in a trade. The Marlins are in rebuild mode, so they’ll be looking for high level prospects in exchange for Ozuna. Plus, Ozuna’s trade value has never been higher. If the Marlins want to move himm, which it seems like they do, they’re looking for a big package in return. I’m talking one high level prospects and maybe a couple of mid level prospects thrown in there as well. The Cardinals as on organization are usually unwilling to let prospects fly, as they have shown they are capable of developing MLB-ready players.
Another issue is Ozuna’s position. With Grichuk in the minors, Tommy Pham, Dexter Fowler and Stephen Piscotty make up the outfield. If the Cards were to trade for Ozuna, who would he replace? The most obvious answer seems to be Pham, but then the Cardinals are losing their best outfield bat. Replacing Fowler would mean they’re wasting an expensive offseason signing. Replacing Piscotty could stymie the growth of a young player. It’s really a lose-lose-lose situation.
Ultimately, I’m pretty against this trade. Ozuna is too expensive and way too risky to gamble on at this stage in the season.
Even if the Cardinals were willing to put together a package for Ozuna and even if he continued to hit like he has, I’m not sure that would be enough to put the Cardinals over the top. There are still major defensive and bullpen related issues with this team that one bat cannot solve. You can say it puts them in better position for the future, but remember they’d be giving up more than one prospect for the future in this deal, so is it really worth it?
The way I see it, this team is definitely a couple pieces away from contention, but I don’t think Ozuna is that piece.
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