Marcell Ozuna’s final season with the Marlins in 2017 was his greatest full-body of work to date. In 149 games, the then-left fielder hit 37 home runs, whilst driving in a career-best 124 runs and finishing with a 176 OPS+.
Following the end of the season, Ozuna, along with fellow teammates, 2017 NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton, and next year’s MVP, Christian Yelich, would all find themselves in different uniforms come 2018.
For Ozuna, the left fielder would be shipped to the St. Louis Cardinals in a trade that would see Miami receive Daniel Castano, the since-traded Zac Gallen, Magneuris Sierra, and Sandy Alcantara. And while the Fish are already seeing the downside in trading the high-upside Gallen, Alcantara has slowly established himself among the more promising pieces of this Marlins’ rebuild.
Per scouting reports on Alcantara thus far, he reads like the team’s modern-heir to what Henderson Alvarez was: a high velocity right-hander who can sink the ball, but won’t miss too many bats. Among the 104 pitchers with at least 250 innings pitched since the start of 2018, Alcantara ranks 87th in SO/9.
Despite the lack of swing-and-miss, other peripherals outline the success he’s had in the early part of his career. The 25-year old owns a 115 ERA+ (100 represents league average) in his three seasons with Miami, and owns a career 3.69 ERA in 273 1/3 innings with the club, despite leading the NL in losses with 14 in 2019.
2020 also saw the right-hander lower his BB/9 from 3.7 in 2019 to a career-best 3.2, albeit across just 42 innings pitched. Alcantara’s strikeout rate gradually increased, finishing the season with a mark of 8.4 SO/9, good enough for a 22.7 K%.
And for a franchise appearing in their first postseason since the days of Josh Beckett and Juan Pierre, Alcantara was crucial in helping Miami advance to the Division Series, authoring 6 innings of 1-run ball against the Chicago Cubs.
With a pitcher who has only seemed to improve thus far, it’s fair to ponder what an extension would look like for Alcantara.
A name that comes to mind when considering what the financials of such a deal would look like for Alcantara is Julio Teherán. Teherán, who signed a six-year, $32.4 million extension with the Braves prior to the 2014 season, had had a similar 110 ERA+ over parts of three seasons with Atlanta before inking the deal which bought out two free agent years. The native of Colombia would pitch to a 114 ERA+ (3.37) from 2014-2016, making two All-Star teams in the process.
With these financials and statistics in mind, it shouldn't be too out of the question for Alcantara to receive a deal akin to Teherán’s.
Giving Alcantara, say, a contract of six-years, $38.5 million isn’t much of a stretch for someone's whose second baseball-reference similarity score comparison is fellow burgeoning ace Dinelson Lamet. Not only would said extension prior to Opening Day 2021 lock in Alcantara through 2026, but the deal would fall perfectly in line with the depressed pitching market amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Should Alcantara be extended but the Jeter/Ng-led rebuild fails to bear any further winning fruits, Alcantara could net a sizable return given his affordability and upside.
For Marlins fans and the front office, it’s something to chew on—or in this case, a hook to bite on.