The St. Louis Cardinals missed out on Stanton to fill the right field void in 2018, but, the next quality piece to trade for could be Marcell Ozuna.
No, he is no “MVP” like Giancarlo Stanton or even J.D Martinez, but the affordability he brings makes him even more valuable.
Looking into the St. Louis Cardinals needs for next season, using my “Predator Baseball Statistics team needs” they had two great outfield spots and one not so good.
Position Production: MLB Rank OPS OBP SLG PRI PWAA
Left-Field: 8th .857 .359 .498 23.14 3.47
Center-Field: 15th .861 .361 .483 21.11 3.18
Right-Field: 176th .733 .316 .417 -2.56 -0.38
*PRI – Runs Created compared to average player with equal PA.
*PWAA – Wins Above Average player. Team of Average Players = 81-81 record.
*MLB Rank is out of 287 positions, 270 fielders + 17 teams used DH in 2017.
Looking at the chart, it is clear that Tommy Pham and Dexter Fowler impacted the outfield in 2017, as the primary presence in left and center field. However, the lackluster play of the other outfielders that filled in right field cost the team 0.38 wins in 2017.
So this begs the question, how can Marcell Ozuna be the bat to fix the Cardinals middle of order as well as the outfield problem?
First, his past three seasons he has improved tremendously. In 2015, my Predator Baseball Stats had him worth a -2.33 PRI, making him a below average player costing the Miami Marlins -0.34 PWAA.
In 2016, he jumped to a slightly above average player with 0.50 PWAA.
However, this past season, he became a serious impact bat creating 19.19 more runs than the average player and being worth 2.88 wins.
All and all, there are only 60 players I consider “trending up” for my 2018 Projections out of the 716 batters that had 10+ Plate Appearances in 2017. Marcell Ozuna is one of those, and he is only 27 years old, right in the middle of his prime.
2018 Projection: 6.73 PRI, 1.01 PWAA, .796 OPS, 23.3 HR, 81.3 RBI, and 71.7 Runs.
According to Spotrac, Marcell Ozuna will be in his second year of arbitration, with a contract of $3.5 million a year ago, that number should go up after his excellent season in 2017.
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According to my stats, he has a projected value of $9.48 million for 2018; note that this is not a projection for arbitration, but his production.
Even so, it will be a manageable contract for what is an all-star caliber player in his prime.
Not to mention, a trade for Ozuna would give the Cardinals two years of production with him and two years to entice him to sign a long-term deal.
Now, this is somewhat risky for the club, the Miami Marlins; one would have to suspect, would be enticed to try and get top-tier prospects for him.
Even more, the reason the St. Louis Cardinals can get him because they have an arsenal of young pitching arms they are willing to negotiate.
The risk is that he regresses back to the 2016/2015 level (I think unlikely, but go along with me) then he becomes not worth the what-could-have-been prospects they give up. Also, the two years of control is risky in a sense; they would be risking long-term success with short-term goals.
Either way, Marcell Ozuna is a rising star in the MLB, and he is coming off a tremendous breakout 2017 season. His production would seemingly solidify the outfield for the next couple years and allow the St. Louis Cardinals to seriously explore trading Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty for much-needed pitching help.