Cardinals and OF Marcell "The Bear" Ozuna to reunite after all?


"I want to stay". St. Louis Cardinals OF Marcell Ozuna in 2019. A free agent in 2020. (Photo: Rob Tringali/Sportschrome/Getty Images)

You have heard the adage, "A bad penny always turns up". In the case of the current 'former' St. Louis Cardinals OF Marcell Ozuna, I believe "The Bear" is a good penny. And, maybe even "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure", as the saying goes.


Prior to the 2019 season ending, Ozuna made it known he wanted to remain with the team. Season closed and he was offered the now MLB popular Qualifying Offer for free agent-to-be. Which, with no surprise, he declined.


OZUNA HISTORY


His trade from the Miami Marlins to the Cardinals in 2017, a two time All Star, 2017 MVP contender, Gold Glove (earned in left field) and Silver Slugger awards break-out season with a .312 BA/.548 SLG/.924 OPS. Cardinals had wooed Giancarlo Stanton to no avail. Ozuna was second in line. The trade was completed with the Cardinals having to give up, at the time, the same four premium prospects which they had agreed upon with the Marlins regarding Stanton. Which included outfielder Magneuris Sierra and pitcher Sandy Alcantara, to ink the 1 Yr/$9 MM contract for Ozuna.


Impressive 2017: "Ozuna became the third outfielder since 2003 to hit .310 with at least 30 homers and 120 RBIs. He led all NL cleanup hitters with a .548 slugging percentage and .924 OPS, and he finished fourth among all NL players in total bases." (Jenifer Langosch, MLB, Dec 13, 2017)


No sign of the above as he dealt with discomfort (shoulder) in 2018, which led to microscopic surgery and recovery in the off-season. However, not directly under the watchful eye of the Cardinals medical/training staff. That left a few unhappy campers among the Cardinals organization regarding his rehab 'off-site'.


But, he still held a .280 BA with 23 HR/88 RBI in his first season with St. Louis. Even though, due to his shoulder situation, 'throwing' did become an issue. After Ozuna's 'taking care of his health on his own', once arriving early to their camp in Jupiter FL, he was confirmed ready to play coming into Spring Training 2019. And, a new $12.5 MM contract for last season. Hugs all around with an ounce of 'don't do it again' scenario.


In 2019, he slugged out 29 HR/89 RBI, but only a .241 BA (485 PA) with a tick better .472 SLG/.800 OPS over 2018. With 117 hits, he also added 23-doubles along with a relatively 'healthy' 62-114/BB-SO ratio and with 12 stolen bases, only caught twice.


However, he only played in a total of 130 games due to sustaining a fracture to two fingers on his right hand - batting and throwing hand - sliding back into first base, June 28 in the game against the San Diego Padres. At that point, he led the team with 20 HR/62 RBI. He missed 28 games and returned on August 3. Too soon? Here nor there, Cardinals clean-up hitter was back.


In my opinion, obviously without the 'hand power' on the bat to re-coup a strong season start with only adding nine more homers and 27 RBI, in 51 games played to close the season. Within the latter portion of play, he still held with a decent a 31-48/BB-SO ratio.