The SF Giants are interested in Marcell Ozuna, one of the top free-agent outfielders in this year’s class, according to a report by Jon Morosi.
While the SF Giants have been one of the most aggressive teams on the starting pitching free-agent market, the organization is also interested in some of the top hitters. According to a report by Jon Morosi of MLB Network, the Giants “have interest” in free-agent Marcell Ozuna. A piece earlier this offseason speculated the Giants could target the right-handed hitting outfielder.
At first, Ozuna seems like an uncomfortable fit in San Francisco. However, Morosi adds that their interest is contingent on the universal designated hitter in the National League, which commissioner Rob Manfred has been unwilling to commit to. If the team knew they had the NL for the foreseeable future, they would be much more likely to get involved.
Ozuna was one of the best players in baseball this season. Serving as Atlanta’s primary designated hitter (although he played 19 games in left field and 2 games in right as well), he led the league in home runs (18), runs batted in (56), and total bases (145). Finishing sixth in the National League Most Valuable Player award voting, the 30-year old seemed poised for a big payday.
After declining a qualifying offer last offseason in search of a multi-year deal, a signing team will not have to sacrifice draft capital for Ozuna. With a Giants front office that clearly values prospects, that’s a big deal.
MLB Trade Rumors predicted Ozuna would sign a four-year deal about $72 million in guarantees. Still, that’s probably near the ceiling for his contract this year. Ozuna has already changed agents this offseason and The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported that a slow-moving market prompted the change.
It’s not unreasonable that Ozuna could end up settling for a four-year, $60 million or shorter-term two-year, $40 million contract. If the price falls that far, it stands to reason the Giants could make an offer even without certainty on the DH.
Defensively, Ozuna has graded below-average per Outs Above Average but is far from unplayable. Atlanta struggled to get offensive production from the rest of their outfield all season, but with a number of premium defensive players, it made sense to shift Ozuna to the DH spot. With that said, he’s a competent left fielder capable of playing that spot every day.
Perhaps most importantly, adding Ozuna would enable the front-office to more aggressively shop players like Alex Dickerson, Austin Slater, Darin Ruf, and perhaps top prospects like Heliot Ramos. With Rays ace Blake Snell available in trade talks, maybe the Giants are willing to make their first splashes of the Farhan Zaidi era.
The SF Giants will obviously be searching for upgrades to their starting rotation, but it seems like the front office is prepared to pursue Marcell Ozuna if Major League Baseball institutes the universal DH.