Padres should pursue Marcell Ozuna as team’s DH

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

Marcell Ozuna had a big year with the Braves, and he’d be a major upgrade at DH over Mitch Moreland for the Padres next year.

After a failed tenure in St. Louis, Marcell Ozuna had a bounceback year with the Atlanta Braves. For whatever reason, things didn’t pan out with the Cardinals. But with the Braves, the almost 30-year-old was producing at a rate similar to 2017 when he with the Marlins.

That year, Ozuna earned his second consecutive All-Star selection while hitting 37 bombs with 124 RBI.

He’ll be one of the most coveted bats on the free-agent market this offseason, after hitting 18 HR and 56 RBI in 60 games this year. Right now, the Padres have Mitch Moreland slotted in as the team’s DH, coming over at the trade deadline, but he hit just .186 at PetCo Park. Was he a product of the hitter-friendly Fenway Park and the previous park in Arlington?

A couple of caveats here first.

Moreland has just a $3M club option for next year. He’d cost next to nothing to retain on a team that figures to be handing out a long-term extension to Fernando Tatis Jr. in the near future.

That said, his struggles at Petco are well-known, albeit a limited sample size. Ozuna will cost north of $15M per year, at least, and be looking for a long-term deal.

This also assumes that the National League will retain the DH in 2021. If they revert to 2019 standards, this whole discussion can be tabled with a crowded outfield providing no regular playing time for Ozuna to plug-in.

With 39 games played at DH this year, Ozuna posted a robust .362/.464/.691 line with 14 HR and 40 RBI in the heart of the Braves order. He’d provide great protection for guys like Manny Machado, Eric Hosmer, and Wil Myers. And while he’s not the best in the outfield, he can spell someone needing a rest day.

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Moreland is fairly limited where he can play in the field, and with Hosmer planted at first base, DH is really his only option. Had the former posted better numbers in his brief time with the Padres, this likely wouldn’t even be a discussion.

But the addition of Ozuna would create a lineup for San Diego with very little holes in it, pushing them closer to a World Series title.