Marcell Ozuna wants to stay with the St. Louis Cardinals, but the front office does not want to pony up to his contract demands. Here is why the Cardinals should consider Nicholas Castellanos if, pun not intended, the price is right.
In the wake of the Nolan Arenado rumors and trade ideas, which just got a wrench thrown in them, the St. Louis Cardinals are still looking at their options for a corner outfielder. Marcell Ozuna remains a free agent, but he wants the Cardinals to offer him more money. If you remember, Ozuna rejected a qualifying offer for $17.8 million for 2020.
The Cardinals are using their time to evaluate the young depth built up over the years. I am on record suggesting that the team should give Dylan Carlson every opportunity to succeed. I still believe Carlson should be on the Opening Day roster.
However, let’s say that they do not want to promote him just yet or they’re not sold on Tyler O’Neill. Who takes over in left field? Now I am not advocating to sign Nicholas Castellanos right now at this moment, but rather, take a look.
Last month, Dan Buffa wrote an opinion piece for KSDK advocating for this, citing his extra base-hit numbers and his durability. Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic also posted this interesting idea on Twitter:
Looking at both Castellanos and Ozuna from a statistical standpoint, both players are almost equal. Although Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs calculate WAR differently, Castellanos has a bWAR of 2.7 and an fWAR of 2.8 in 2019. Ozuna’s bWAR was 2.2, and his fWAR was 2.6.
When we look into more offensive-driven sabermetrics, we see Castellanos held the upper hand on Ozuna in 2019. Using weighted On-Base Average (wOBA), Castellanos’ wOBA was .357, whereas Ozuna had a .337 wOBA.
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Let’s go a step further and use weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+) to account for the park effects and run environment. Castellanos had wRC+ of 121 last season. Ozuna: 110.
So now that we know Castellanos would be an upgrade over Ozuna, the question then becomes what will the price tag be? We don’t know what Castellanos wants right now, but we do know that the Texas Rangers are very interested in him, perhaps in a DH role.
I don’t want the Cardinals to get into a bidding war for someone who, despite great offensive upside, has shown to struggle defensively, hence why he was a DH at times in Detroit. Dan Szymborski at FanGraphs projects Castellanos’ to get a contract around $15-16 million a year.
Nicholas Castellanos would be an offensive upgrade over Marcell Ozuna. We saw what he could do last year in both Detroit and on the north side of Chicago with the bat. If the young guns are not ready for The Show, then the Cardinals need to look at Castellanos.