Miami's outfield has been considered one of the best in all of baseball and Marcell Ozuna has a lot to do with that. Over his first two major league seasons, Ozuna has proven he has power and can have success anywhere in the lineup. But he has slowed down a bit in 2015.
Before the start of the season, the Marlins' priority was extending members of their young core, and while Christian Yelich received an extension, Adeiny Hechavarria, Ozuna, and Jose Fernandez were not successfully locked up. Both Ozuna and Fernandez are represented by Scott Boras, who is known for encouraging his players to determine their market value through free agency. Although many believed Fernandez and Ozuna rejected Miami's offers because of Boras' policy, Boras told Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald the players make the final decision.
"In Jose’s career, it’s a bit premature because he’s still young and has only been doing it for a couple years," Boras said. "I’ve had many players go to free agency and re-sign with their existing teams. I’ve had other players that have pursued other avenues. I don’t make the decisions whether they do or don’t."
While Fernandez has just returned from Tommy John surgery, Ozuna's hesitation with regard to accepting the Marlins' offer is notable because of his current struggles. At 24, Ozuna has posted a .252/.304/.340 batting line to complement four home runs and 26 RBIs. The Marlins optioned him to Triple-A New Orleans on Sunday afternoon and a result of offensive inconsistencies.
Upon being promoted, Ozuna batted .269/.303/.389 to complement three home runs and 32 RBIs over 70 contests. He continued to have success at plate and was a key piece in the Marlins' order last season, posting a .269/.317/.455 line in addition to 23 home runs and 85 RBIs. But since the beginning of the season, Ozuna has seemingly struggled, and as a result, the Marlins might reconsider their long-term plans.
Miami does not have a notable amount of outfield depth after trading Jake Marisnick to Houston in the Jarred Cosart deal last July. Both Michael Morse and Cole Gillespie will likely see time in the Marlins' outfield over the next few weeks and since they lack outfield depth, the Marlins are likely hoping Ozuna bounces back in New Orleans. He very well could have success and be called upon to start in center field once again, but if he continues to struggle, the Marlins might consider trading for an outfield prospect over the next few weeks.
While Fernandez is pitching in the big leagues for the first time since last May and Hechavarria has continued to develop as a well-rounded shortstop, Ozuna has taken a momentary step back. As a result of his inability to remain consistent, the Marlins might not consider making another offer at the end of the season. He is a controllable outfielder and Miami will have the opportunity to evaluate him over time. But if he is unable to bounce back, the Marlins will likely consider other outfield possibilities instead of negotiating with Boras and attempting to lock him up once again.