The Miami Marlins are continuing to tear down their roster, and Marcell Ozuna is the next player on his way out of town.
It’s been no secret at the annual MLB Winter Meetings that the Miami Marlins are holding a firesale as the new ownership group tries to strip payroll down under $60 million. Giancarlo Stanton has already been traded, and All-Star outfielder Marcell Ozuna has now also been moved.
The Cardinals were one of the teams to make an aggressive push to acquire Stanton, and the Marlins had agreed to the framework of a deal pending his approval. Stanton ultimately elected to force his way to the New York Yankees, but the familiarity between the sides made the Cardinals an obvious favorite to land one of the Marlins remaining trade chips.
After briefly falling out of favor with the Marlins, Ozuna has emerged as an All-Star the past two seasons. He is coming off the best season of his career, having hit .312/.376/.548 in 2017 with 37 home runs and 124 RBI.
Ozuna shifted from center field to left last year and also picked up the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger at the position. He had played 410 of his 653 career MLB games in center field, but advanced metrics showed him to be well below average at the position. Left field is a better fit and a permanent move to a corner will allow him to continue adding muscle.
Ozuna is still arbitration eligible and is under team control through 2020. The Marlins should be seeking a substantial return on him given his cost-controlled status for three more seasons. Their return for Stanton was a pure salary dump, but dealing Ozuna could help provide the core of a totally rebuilt farm system.
St. Louis has needed a power bat since the departure of Albert Pujols, and Ozuna is exactly what they need. They will likely give up on struggling youngsters Stephen Piscotty or Randal Grichuk in the process, but that’s the cost of doing business when trying to keep up with the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League.
Additionally, if they are able to hang onto young starter Luke Weaver, the Cardinals may have enough firepower left over to chase Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado. This could be the start of a big winter for St. Louis.