The reactions regarding Marcell Ozuna's potential future with the Red Sox were probably a little over the top Thursday night. Oh, well.
What’s wrong with embracing the excitement of what-might-be? We need a little of that these days, and Ozuna is the perfect guy to deliver for Red Sox fans. (Yes, even better than Pablo Sandoval in 2014.)
The first wave of Red Sox fandom social media recruiting when it came to Ozuna started well before the Braves outfielder’s two-home run display in Atlanta’s Game 4 win over the Dodgers. (Although the fact that we are coming a four-hit night in which all four hits totaling an exit velocity of 104 mph or better can’t be ignored.)
Remember back in those first two days of September when Ozuna came to Fenway Park and hit four home runs in two days? That will do it.
That started the conversations, but didn’t finish them.
While so many rightfully focused on the fit that fellow-free-agent-to-be George Springer would be as a potential replacement for Jackie Bradley Jr. in center field, a case for Ozuna being another Chaim Bloom target remains just as plausible.
Heading into his Age 30 season, the outfielder seems to be coming into his own after some OK-but-not-great seasons in St. Louis. Ozuna led all National League hitters this shortened season with 18 homers while totaling a .338 batting average and 1.067 OPS.
So, where is the fit for the Red Sox? It’s not perfect, but there is one.
Ozuna would likely have to play left field, with his range diminishing from that Gold Glove season in 2017. And ultimately his position path would lead him to designated hitter after J.D. Martinez’s final two years in Boston run their course. Also, the fact he is a right-handed hitter — with the presence of Alex Verdugo, Andrew Benintendi and prospect Jarren Duran — doesn’t hurt matters.
Ozuna’s demeanor also seems to be long the lines of what a revamped Red Sox clubhouse would be looking, as was highlighted by Braves’ pitcher Bryse Wilson after Atlanta’s most recent win.
“The energy Marcell brings to the team is unbelievable,” Wilson said. “Regardless of whether he has an 0-for-4 night or he has a night like tonight, the energy is always there. It’s translated throughout the whole team. This team is so much fun to be around. He’s a big part of it for sure.”
Ozuna also represents offseason excitement, a valued commodity at times with this ownership group.
When it comes to perception-changing free agent signings, there simply aren't a lot of options this offseason. But an argument could be formed that no free agent target -- with the possible exception of Trevor Bauer -- who re-energize the fan base's hopes of relevancy like Ozuna.
He also wouldn't cost the Red Sox a draft pick if signed (having been offered the qualifying offer last offseason). That wouldn't be the case with the likes of Springer.
Beninteindi’s situation does complicate things somewhat, however. Moving him to right field, with Verdugo sliding to center field, might not be ideal. But the Red Sox' big picture can't be too hamstrung by the uncertainty surrounding their former first-round pick.
Yes, Ozuna is going cost a lot of years and money. Yes, this is probably not part of Bloom's blueprint, even with the organization's newfound financial freedom. But it's not out of the question.
Let's face it: If the Red Sox stop being viewed as landing spots for the cream of the free agent crop than things have really gone astray. In the words of Andy Dufresne in Shawshank Redemption, "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."