St. Louis Cardinals: Marcell Ozuna or Christian Yelich
By Jason Grose
St. Louis Cardinals fans are all aware of the current trade rumors. Supposedly, there is momentum towards a deal with the Miami Marlins – presumably for one of their outfielders. So, who makes more sense, Marcell Ozuna or Christian Yelich?
In this article, I am only going to provide facts and statistics. I will not opine or reveal who I think the St. Louis Cardinals should sign. I will let you readers decide for yourselves. Enjoy.
Christian Yelich has four years and $43.25 million left on his contract with a $15 million team option in 2022. The St. Louis Cardinals would be getting at least four years of control. He is currently 26 years old.
Marcell Ozuna is arbitration eligible for the second time in 2018. Most reports predict he’ll earn about $10 million next season. He can become a free-agent in 2020. So, the Cardinals would be getting at least two years of control. He is currently 27 years old.
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Yelich has a career .290/.369/.432 triple slash for an .800 OPS. He has never hit below .282 and never had an on-base percentage below .362.
He is an above average runner who has averaged fifteen steals in his four full seasons (he only played in 62 games his rookie season). His 162 game averages are .290, 37 doubles, 15 homers, 74 RBI, 18 steals, and 76 walks.
He has averaged 3.6 oWAR during his four full seasons. He is coming of a year in which he hit .282/.369/.439 with eighteen home runs, 81 RBI, and 16 steals.
Ozuna has a career .277/.329/.457 triple slash for a .786 OPS. He is coming off a monster year in which he hit .312/.376/.548 with 37 home runs and 124 RBI. His 162 game averages are .277, 31 doubles, 24 home runs, 90 RBI, three steals, and 47 walks. He has averaged 3.0 oWAR in his four full seasons (he also played in limited games during his rookie season).
Yelich played all of his innings in center field last season. He had -6 defensive runs saved which ranked 11th among all MLB center fielders (for reference, Dexter Fowler was at -18). Overall, in just over 2,000 career innings in CF, he has -12 DRS. However, in about 3,500 career innings in left field, he has 32 DRS. He did win a Gold Glove in 2014 as a left fielder.
Ozuna played the vast majority of his games in left field last season (he played 18 innings in CF and one in RF). He had 11 defensive runs saved. That was tops in the National League and earned him a Gold Glove. For his career, he has played just over 1,500 innings in left field (over 1,300 of those innings came in 2017) and has 13 DRS. He has played over 3,500 innings in CF and has -8 DRS.
Both are much better left fielders than they are center fielders (as would be most outfielders). Both are gold glove caliber defenders in left.
Yelich has been worth 4.1 WAR per season in his four full ones. Ozuna has been worth 3.3 WAR per season.
Projections (for what they’re worth):
Depth Charts projects Yelich to be worth 4.0 WAR with a .292/.376/.462 triple slash line for an .838 OPS.
Depth Charts projects Ozuna to be worth 3.7 WAR with a .288/.352/.509 triple slash for an .860 OPS.
What will it take to actually get them?
I will not guess on what prospects or current big league players would be included in a deal for either. But, presumably it would require a greater package to get Yelich. He is younger and under control for at least two more years than Ozuna would be.
Next: Close to a trade for Colome?
I will not try to sway you one way or the other. I know who I would like to see in a St. Louis Cardinals uniform in 2018 and beyond. Let’s hope the Cardinals front office agree.