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Marlins, Mariners 'could have issues' with regard to starting pitching

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Taijuan Walker might not be moved by the Mariners.

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Miami has expressed interest in moving Marcell Ozuna, and the Mariners have been linked to Ozuna. In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, ESPN's Jerry Crasnick reported Mariners were working on a deal to acquire Ozuna.

However, according to Crasnick, the clubs could have difficulty completing a deal since the Marlins are seeking top starting pitching.

In any deal this winter, the Marlins are likely to check in on controllable starting pitchers. Miami is hoping to add starting depth to complement Jose Fernandez, Tom Koehler and Jarred Cosart in the rotation.

It initially appeared Nate Karns and Roenis Elias could emerge as targets for the Marlins.

Karns, 27, pitched to a 3.67 ERA and 4.09 FIP over 147.0 innings last season. He has proven to be durable and would give the Marlins another middle of the rotation arm who strikes out an average of eight or nine batters per nine innings every season.

Elias, also 27, pitched to a 4.14 ERA and 4.52 FIP over 115.1 innings. He would give the Marlins a left-handed option to insert into the rotation.

While adding either Karns or Elias would likely prove to be beneficial, the Marlins might have requested Taijuan Walker be included in any deal involving Ozuna. Walker pitched to a 4.56 ERA and 4.07 FIP over 169.2 innings last season, but the Mariners do not appear open to moving him. Although that might change, the Marlins could also explore other options.

Miami has been linked to numerous free agent starters and might not feel the need to move Ozuna. However, if any free agents the Marlins are interested in become too expensive, Ozuna could subsequently be moved.

Any return in an Ozuna deal should still be significant, though. Ozuna, 24, ended the year with a .259/.308/.383 line to complement 10 home runs and 44 RBIs over 123 games with the Marlins. In 2014, Ozuna hit 23 home runs and drove in 85.

The Marlins might not end up moving Ozuna. But if they do, they likely will create an even deal with regard to starting pitching and Seattle ultimately might not be involved.