The Mets’ primary focus this winter falls on pitching, catching and center field. So why, according to an industry source, have they expressed an interest in stud free-agent bat Marcell
The Mets’ primary focus this winter falls on pitching, catching and center field. So why, according to an industry source, have they expressed an interest in stud free-agent bat Marcell Ozuna?
Because their lineup leans to the left more than Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Ozuna, who just turned 30, will be able to choose from myriad suitors, although his process might take a while thanks to both the COVID-induced Hot Stove slowdown and the collective bargaining over returning the designated hitter to the National League for next season. He spent 2020 with the Braves after signing a one-year, $18-million contract with them in January and rewarded their commitment with a .338/.431/.636 slash line in 60 games. His 18 homers, 56 RBIs and 145 total bases led the NL and his 267 plate appearances paced the entire major leagues as he arguably elevated his status more than any other hitter on this open market.
En route to finishing sixth overall in the NL Most Valuable Player voting, Ozuna spent most of his time (39 games) at DH, mixing in 19 starts in left field and two in right field. The Mets appear covered at these three positions, finishing third in the league in production (.827 OPS) at DH, second in left field (.956) and second in right field (.910), as per Baseball-Reference.com, with no major departures.
But Ozuna can’t be wholly ignored because he slashed .356/.463/.867 against lefty pitching and is .294/.349/.517 for his career. The 2020 Mets, with most of their production coming from the left side as the righty-swinging Pete Alonso endured a rough sophomore season, slashed .257./345/.427 versus southpaws, their .773 OPS placing them a not-terrible sixth in the league yet falling well short of their .824 OPS against righties, third in the NL.
The top two position-player free agents, catcher J.T. Realmuto and centerfielder George Springer, both hit right-handed and fit the Mets’ needs better defensively. The safe bet calls for one of that pair to wear a Mets uniform in 2021 and beyond. If the safe bet doesn’t occur, though? Ozuna, if not the simplest fit, would be one heck of an addition to an already above-average offense.