A couple of the runner-ups in the Giancarlo Stanton sweepstakes have wasted no time in moving on to their next target and a big Fish within his own right: Miami Marlins left fielder Marcell Ozuna.
Both the St. Louis Cardinals and the Los Angeles Dodgers were said to have balked at offering to take on the amount of money (read: all of it) that Derek Jeter and the Marlins were looking to off-load; acquiring Ozuna, in comparison, will simply cost them some of their top prospects.
According to mlbtraderumors, Ozuna is expected to earn $10.9 million via arbitration in 2018. He will then be under team control in 2019 as well (with another expected bump) before he hits free agency in time for the 2020 season.
Ozuna hit a robust .312/.376/.548 last season, compiling 4.8 fWAR when coupled with his Gold Glove-winning defense. He could slot in nicely in any outfield spot and in the heart of any competitive team’s lineup.
He’s inexpensive, entering his prime, and really, really good. So, it stands to reason that we’d be hearing the names of top prospects being thrown around when considering such an acquisition.
For the Cardinals, that group may include names like starting pitchers Alex Reyes, Luke Weaver, Jack Flaherty, Sandy Alcantara, Dakota Hudson and outfielder Tyler O’Neill. Less names have been floated out there in the case of the Dodgers, but two that seem to keep coming up are 21-year-old outfielder Alex Verdugo and Cuban fireballer Yadiel Alvarez, the numbers two and three prospects per MLB Pipeline’s top 30 Dodgers prospects.
Both teams have spoken with the Marlins about acquiring Ozuna but talks with the Cardinals might be a little further along because they’d been more deeply involved in the Stanton discussion.
The Marlins did not have Ozuna out on the market earlier in the offseason because they were laser-focused on dumping Stanton’s contract; now that it’s been taken care of, the expectation is that they will move Ozuna for either a package of elite prospects or a lesser package with a bad contract attached to the deal; someone like a Wei-Yin Chen, Martin Prado, Brad Ziegler or Junichi Tazawa could all fit the bill (the foursome will combine to make $39.5 million dollars in 2018).
These teams have also asked about Christian Yelich, who is supposedly not on the marketplace but probably will be before all is said and done.