Brewers

Brewers Rumored to be Targeting Marcell Ozuna

The Brewers’ offseason has been filled with many minor league signings and rumors of further cuts to the payroll.

But on Friday morning, a report surfaced that the Brewers may be reaching out to a big name free agent.

According to Hector Gomez of Z101 Digital of the Dominican Republic, the Brewers are one of six teams that have shown interest in signing free-agent outfielder Marcell Ozuna.

While being a liability on defense, Ozuna would certainly add power to the Brewers’ lineup, something that the team as a whole lacked greatly last season. Ozuna was a key piece in the Atlanta Braves lineup last season, hitting .338 in last season’s 60-game sprint to the playoffs. He also hit a league-leading 18 home runs and posted a 2.2 WAR. This propelled him to finish 6th in the National League MVP voting.

Outfield Log Jam Again?

For a second, let’s assume that Ozuna chooses to come to Milwaukee. What does this mean for the other outfielders on the team?

Lorenzo Cain

Brewers' outfielder Lorenzo Cain tracks down a flyball during a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA – JULY 28: Lorenzo Cain #6 of the Milwaukee Brewers in action during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on July 28, 2020 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

With two players on the team that can both play center field on big-money contracts, it would make sense for the Brewers to move one of them elsewhere.

That being said, have we seen the last days of Lorenzo Cain in Milwaukee?

While Cain’s defense is far better than Ozuna’s, Cain is a 34-year-old outfielder with two years left on his contract, and isn’t getting any younger. While still very serviceable, the Brewers will have to explore many options with how to rework the outfield. This could possibly include trading Cain while he still has value. In his last full season, Cain struggled at the plate, hitting a career-low batting average (.260) and had an OPS under .700. Despite this, Cain took home his first career Gold Glove award, which will certainly help boost his trade stock. Teams like the Mets, Twins, and Yankees are in the market for outfielders, making them good trade partners with the Brewers in a potential trade for Cain.

Avisaíl García

Avisail Garcia swings at a pitch against the A's in Spring Training
Avisail Garcia swings at a pitch against the A’s in Spring Training

But what if the Brewers decide to keep Lorenzo Cain? This means there are too many outfielders and not enough outfield spots.

Now, if the Brewers keep Cain, then right fielder Avisaíl García is the next man up to be traded. García was signed by Milwaukee in the 2019 offseason after being selected to the American League All-Star team and helping lead the Tampa Bay Rays to the postseason. While he did not put up nearly those same numbers last season, there’s reason to believe that the six foot, four inches tall outfielder with blazing speed for his size has all the tools necessary to repeat his production from 2019. The same teams that would be interested in Cain would certainly be interested in a cheaper, younger García.

If the team doesn’t move any of their outfielders after adding Ozuna, then could García play first base?

It’s not as crazy as it sounds. Outside of the fact that García is not an infielder, his size makes him perfect for the position. With no real answer at first base outside of Daniel Vogelbach, García could get some serious playing time at the position. It would take time for García to get used to the spot, but could pay off for the Brewers if they are in a competitive position come September.

Christian Yelich

Milwaukee Brewers’ Christian Yelich hits an RBI triple during the third inning of a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds Sunday, Aug. 9, 2020, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

A presumed Marcell Ozuna signing would not change much for the 2018 National League MVP. Yelich and Ozuna were teammates on the Miami Marlins from 2013 to 2017. Both are now two-time all stars with team chemistry between the two. Ozuna provides protection for Yelich in the lineup, and would presumably line up in the outfield opposite of Yelich if the team decides to not move Lorenzo Cain or Avisaíl García. The Brewers have Yelich locked up through the end of the decade, and have no plans to move him. Thus, the Brewers would have two of the best outfielders in the game for multiple years to come.

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