The Miami Marlins have not decided yet what they will do with Marcell Ozuna, who is currently in limbo while he gets a final month of the season to prove his mettle. After the extended demotion and his early season struggles, the Marlins might consider him one of their only trade options for improvement in 2016. Joe Frisaro of MLB.com, however, says that there are other factors involved in the potential Ozuna trade.
The Carlos Carrasco rumors had run rampant between the Marlins and Cleveland Indians before the deadline, but what Frisaro mentions here is absolutely true. Carrasco is on a cheap contract and, despite the ERA, is having a fantastic season for Cleveland. Ozuna is legitimately having a poor year on all fronts for the Marlins, so it is not as though the Fish can sell an undervalued asset based on traditional metrics. The Indians are also an intelligent, forward-thinking organization that was aware of their own team's defensive struggles to start the year, so they are probably closer to valuing Carrasco properly.
The Marlins are asking a lot for the amount of assets they actually have. The team is looking for cost-controlled young starters with high-end talent. As Frisaro writes, no one is willing to trade that kind of player easily. Take a look at the top 30 pitchers by FanGraphs WAR in 2015. Most teams would be hard-pressed to acquire any of those guys under pre-arbitration or heading into their first year of arbitration. Frisaro notes that the Fish tried to do that last year with Jarred Cosart, and in that case they were asked (and chose to) overpay on prospects on a questionable upside player because he was under team control for five more seasons. Trying to snag an actual front-end starter would require a lot more than a player coming off a terrible overall season and in a contentious relationship with the front office.
It should be noted that the Marlins ended up trading two young pitchers last offseason in Anthony DeSclafani and Andrew Heaney who could have served as mid-rotation depth for this roster. Instead, the club put its trust in less trustworthy prospects like Justin Nicolino, who has thus far struggled. There were definitely doubts surrounding DeSclafani, but Heaney was still highly regarded and the Marlins have to regret selling early and low on him. They also sold low on Nathan Eovaldi, who was on that FanGraphs list and has put up a two- to three-win season for the Yankees.
The Marlins are low on talent to be trading up to try and acquire ready contributors for the 2016 season. It may be a better move for the team to either try and upgrade via free agency or let this same team, with hopefully a healthy Jose Fernandez and Giancarlo Stanton, take the field next season. This approach would not sacrifice further resources or sell low on players with real talent like Marcell Ozuna while allowing them to evaluate this club. Allowing Ozuna to bounce back from a bad year is beneficial for multiple reasons for the Fish, and it may allow them to get better talent at the trade deadline next year if it comes down to it. After selling low on Heaney and Eovaldi, you would think the Marlins would understand that this is a bad idea, but it looks like the club might take the personal comments by Ozuna and make a professional personnel mistake as a result.