Saturday morning got off to a hopping start in advance of the Winter Meetings, as a report out of the Dominican Republic surfaced that Marcell Ozuna would sign with the White Sox on Monday.
Marcell Ozuna viaja mañana a EUA, firmara con los White— Frank Castillo (@FrankCastillo22) December 7, 2019
Sox el acuerdo sera anunciado el Lunes.
(Translated: Marcell Ozuna is flying to the United States tomorrow and will sign with the White Sox, the agreement will be announced on Monday.)
Now, Frank Castillo is a D.R. source, and Ozuna is Dominican, so ... voila! The White Sox have their right fielder ... right?
On the heels of the rumor breaking this morning, Chicago baseball rumor central Bruce Levine of the Score has put the poo-poo in pooh-poohing the report:
Source - Marcell Ozuna has not signed with the White Sox— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) December 7, 2019
Héctor Gómez, who first forwarded Castillo’s tweet out to his wider U.S. following, has weighed in and is obviously backing Castillo’s scoop.
So, what is the likelihood that the Ozuna rumor is false? It appears to be very low.
First, both sources can be true. The White Sox source denying the rumor via Bruce can be literally pointing out nothing is signed. The club does like to break its own news, after all. Or perhaps Jerry Reinsdorf’s final test for free agents, the last key that unlocks all the millions, is the ability to keep the news secret, for a big news blast on Monday instead of on a dead, football-infested Saturday. So in that sense, Ozuna might’ve blown it.
But it sure seems to be that there’s a new right fielder in town, and he’s a dandy. The 29-year-old has 19.5 bWAR over 5 ½ seasons with Miami and St. Louis.
Although grading out today as an average fielder, he did win a Gold Glove with the Marlins in 2017 ... as a left fielder. It would appear that Ozuna has strong range, logging plenty of CF time in his career, but perhaps not the arm for right field, where he has played in just 65 MLB games.
Ozuna joining the White Sox would reunite him with new Chicago hitting coach Frank Menechino, who helped the outfielder to strong offensive seasons in Miami in 2014, 2016 and 2017.
Ozuna’s closest batting comp, in both career through age 28 and age-28 season, is George Hendrick, which seems dead on. Hendrick had 13.2 of his 29.1 career bWAR after age 28, but more importantly, put up 14 WAR in the five years that Ozuna’s contract likely will cover with the White Sox — not a steal, but a solid buy. (Given Ozuna’s $12.25 million contract with the Cardinals last year, it’s safe to say we’re looking at about $17 million per year on a four- or five-year deal to get Ozuna to the South Side.)
If the White Sox sign Ozuna, the will have to forfeit their second-round pick to St. Louis, as the outfielder was extended a $17.8 million qualifying offer by the Cardinals.
Ozuna is a solid acquisition, and bully to the White Sox for seizing the market, instead of letting the market do another drive-by on them.
We’ll update today and throughout the weekend as warranted.