Marcell Ozuna signe a 1-year $18 million dollar “prove it” contract with the Atlanta Braves officially ending his two-year relationship with the St. Louis Cardinals. The St. Louis Cardinals were in need of an impact bat in the middle of their order. Long gone were the days of Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday anchoring the middle of the order striking fear into the opposing pitching staff. Ozuna had two years left on his contract when he was picked up in 2017. Those two years were supposed to be a showcase of his excellency, forcing the Cardinals to make him a huge offer cementing him as the new face of baseball in the gateway to the west. Ozuna was going to cash in and both the player and the team will live happily ever after. That would have been a great story unfortunately professional sports is not a fairy tale.
The Cardinals picked up a 27-year old, two-time all-star coming off of a breakout season where he posted a .312/.376/.548 slash line to go along with 37 homers, 128 RBI and a gold glove. It wasn’t former teammate Christian Yelich that was the future MVP, Ozuna was considered as the prized piece. The Cardinals gave three pitching prospects Daniel Castano, Zac Gallen, Sandy Alcantara and outfielder Magneuris Sierra for Ozuna. Alcantara was named an all-star in 2019 giving him one more than Ozuna in his time with St. Louis while Zac Gallen has become a part of the rotation for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
When the acquisition was made the Cardinals looked like the clear winner adding the power that was going to take them out of the dreaded middle pack of the central division. The days of Jhonny Peralta, Jedd Gyroko and Randal Grichuck batting cleanup were over. Finally a power bat to accommodate the on-base prowess of Matt Carpenter and Dexter Fowler. The 2017 Cardinals needed this bat.
2017 Team Stats (Non-Pitcher)
Entering 2018 was exciting with their new power bat the Cardinals had to improve their offense…right?
2018 Team Stats (Non-Pitcher)
Ozuna’s first season in St. Louis was marred by a shoulder injury, limiting his production. His slash line .243/.330/.435 was not nearly as productive as his final year with Miami. Coming into the 2019 season the team added Paul Goldschmidt to go along with Ozuna, that should have helped…right?
2019 Team Stats (Non Pitcher)
The Cardinal offense continued to be mediocre in 2019 even though Ozuna was electric to begin the season hitting ten homers in his first 27 games, he floundered down the stretch, hitting just .219 in the second half. Ozuna had a chance to erase two years of sub-par production and looked to be on the right track in the NLDS, hitting two homers with a slash line of .429/.478/.857 in five games against his new team. Continuing that production could have changed the opinion of the public on Ozuna, unfortunately the NLCS wiped away any memory of dominance at the plate. The numbers are literally not worth typing at this point.
Two years with Marcell Ozuna did not change the offense for the St. Louis Cardinals. Ozuna provided the fanbase with some mathom shots that showed the potential he brings to any lineup but he came into the 2018 season out of shape and injured. His swing produced long home runs but resembled a cleanup hitter at your local slow pitch softball league. Those guys can hit the ball pretty far to, doesn’t make them major league All-Stars. Both the Cardinals and Ozuna have found themselves in a place that they could have never imagined.
St. Louis is currently looking at a potential outfield of Tyler O’Neil, Dexter Fowler and Harrison Bader. Banking on a bounce back season from Bader and a breakout season from O’Neil are large questions marks for a team that is always looking to compete. With super prospect Dylan Carlson on his way there is some hope for the future of the Cardinals outfield but if Ozuna could have been the player the Cardinals thought they traded for it you could have the building blocks of a great outfield for years to come.
Ozuna was supposed to be that building block entering his age 29 season, this offseason was supposed to be the one that paid off in the long run of his career. Whether it was the Cardinals or someone else this was the time that the “Big Bear” was supposed to get his contract that could allow him to find a permanent spot to hibernate for the rest of his career. Accepting a one-year deal was the worst case outcome for him. If he is not able to pick up his production this could be a trend that follows him for years to come.
Trades don’t always work out for most teams. This one didn’t set the organization back, but it leaves them in a vulnerable place as we see the progression of the prospects. Marcell Ozuna and the St. Louis Cardinals was supposed to work. Sports stories don’t always have happy endings…luckily for both their stories continue, this was just a crappy chapter.