Why are the Yankees still interested in Marcell Ozuna?
It’s no secret the New York Yankees need to make a move. Their 40-man roster is currently full and room has to be created for DJ LeMahieu and Corey Kluber, both of whom were signed last week. But now we have a recurring report suggesting the Bombers are interested in another free agent.
Yes, the Marcell Ozuna rumors are back and we have no idea what to make of them. He’s one of the best free agents available and isn’t going to be cheap, so what’s the reason for the Yankees’ reported involvement? Forget about paying the high price and going over the luxury tax for a second. This has other big roster implications.
Does Brett Gardner return? Do Clint Frazier and Mike Tauchman get traded? Are the other prospects on the 40-man going to be traded as well? Let’s say the Yankees were to theoretically add Ozuna today. That’ll give them 43 players for 40 spots AND create a logjam in the outfield, which currently consists of Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks, Greg Allen, Frazier and Tauchman.
So, in a sense, the Yankees’ being mentioned in these rumors can at least indicate that there’s either one giant or multiple transactions on the way. Interest in any remaining free agent would suggest that too, so if there’s any inclination to make a move on the open market, something has to follow.
Nonetheless, if the Yankees feel like they’d have to trade Frazier in any deal for a frontline starter, you’d have to think general manager Brian Cashman wouldn’t want to downgrade in left field by starting Tauchman and/or platooning a combination of Tauch, Gardner and Allen. If Frazier has to be moved, Ozuna in left field would be a scary replacement and would only make the Yankees better — even though he’s another right-handed power bat.
Then again, there are luxury tax concerns we have to address.
If Michael Brantley got $16 million per season from the Houston Astros, it has to be assumed Ozuna is going to get at least $18 million, meaning if this became a reality for the Yankees, they’d blow past the luxury tax threshold and not care, or they’d go ahead and clear salary in the form of Adam Ottavino ($9 million). Right now, if they officially add LeMahieu and Kluber to the 40-man, the payroll is at $101 million, leaving them with $9 million to spend before the tax.
Add Ozuna at $18 million, get rid of Ottavino’s $9 million, trade Frazier ($2.1 million) and prospects for a Luis Castillo, who will be making around $6 million (if that’s still possible), and you’re at $214 million. The tax on that would be $800K.
We’d hope Hal Steinbrenner could live with that. But again, we’ve got no clue what’s going on. We just have these rumors to go off of.