Ozuna and the Cardinals agreed to a one-year deal Friday, avoiding arbitration, Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports. Ozuna was a bit of a disappointment in his first season for the Cardinals, failing to repeat his numbers from his breakout 2017 campaign. His homers fell from 37 to 23 while his wRC+ dropped from 144 to 106. His .280/.325/.433 line was still decent, though, and he'll line up to play almost every day heading into the season.
Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said Thursday that Ozuna (shoulder) should receive full clearance for baseball activities at some point in January, Fox Sports Midwest reports. Ozuna was bothered by his right shoulder for a good portion of his inaugural campaign in St. Louis, but still finished the season on the field, delivering a .280 average, 23 home runs, 88 RBI and 69 RBI across 148 games. After undergoing surgery Oct. 30 to address the injury, Ozuna appears to be tracking well in his recovery and should be back to 100 percent health well before spring training. If the surgery provides a permanent fix for his shoulder woes, Ozuna shouldn't have much difficulty upping his power production in 2019.
Ozuna is scheduled to undergo a procedure to clean up his shoulder Tuesday, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Ozuna dealt with shoulder injuries throughout the 2018 season, and it was determined after a meeting with Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles on Tuesday that the outfielder's best course of action would be a shoulder scope. Ozuna, who hit .280/.325/.433 with 23 homers and 88 RBI in his first season with the Cardinals in 2018, is expected to be fully healthy for spring training.
Ozuna is not in the lineup Sunday against the Cubs. Ozuna started every game since Sept. 2, and he produced a .906 OPS in that span. However, with the Cardinals getting eliminated from playoff contention Saturday, he'll finally get a day off. Ozuna will finish the season with a .758 OPS to go with 23 homers, 88 RBI and 69 runs scored. Tyler O'Neill will get a start in left field to replace him.
Ozuna went 2-for-4 with an RBI in Friday's 8-4 loss to the Cubs. Ozuna plated a run in the sixth inning on a single to left field, but the Cubs would ultimately take the series opener 8-4. The 27-year-old has gone 10-for-37 with two extra-base hits and five RBI over his previous 10 games, and he'll need to step up during the final two games of the regular season if the Cardinals have a chance to make the wild-card game.