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Which ex-Marlin will haunt Miami most as NL East rival?

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Miami Marlins v Atlanta Braves Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

The Marlins do not regret their decisions to trade All-Stars J.T. Realmuto and Marcell Ozuna. It is aggravating that the franchise is unwilling to pay players of their caliber fair market value on long-term contracts. However, both were flipped for young, controllable talent at the appropriate time. Six of the seven total players received for them have already reached the majors with Miami and flashed their exciting potential.

That being said, the Marlins cannot completely turn the page on that era. While other key pieces from the old core have settled outside the NL East (or left Major League Baseball entirely), Realmuto and Ozuna recently re-upped with their 2020 teams, the Phillies and Braves, respectively. They got lengthy deals, too—five guaranteed years for Realmuto, four guaranteed years plus a club option for Ozuna.

Which of the two will be more productive over the next half-decade? Their ZiPS projections are eerily similar:

FanGraphs
FanGraphs

Jay Jaffe of FanGraphs provides an important clarification, that “Ozuna’s ZiPS presupposes that he’s playing left field, and doing so at an appreciably above-average clip (DR is defensive runs). If he’s DHing, according to (Dan Szymborski) his annual WAR projections drop to 3.6, 3.2, 2.7, 2.1, and then 1.4 for the option year.” That would put his estimated value at half a win below Realmuto during each season of the 2021-2025 period.

The Marlins enter this campaign with one of MLB’s shakiest catching situations. This figures to be a make-or-break year for Jorge Alfaro, who coincidentally came from the Realmuto trade. If he emerges as an All-Star, they won’t be missing J.T. much...but there’s also a nightmare scenario that would have the Fish starting from scratch at the position in 2022. On the other hand, Ozuna’s mighty bat will be just as painful to watch from afar if the Miami offense once again struggles to generate extra-base hits.

Ozuna has been the greater annoyance in head-to-head competition. He owns a .308/.382/.473 slash line with four home runs in 23 regular season games against the Marlins, plus he helped Atlanta sweep them in the 2020 NLDS. Realmuto has underperformed in his 22 “revenge” games thus far (.222/.284/.370, 3 HR in 88 PA).

Let’s put it to a poll. Realmuto and Ozuna ought to be the two most popular answers, but former Marlins pitchers Stephen Tarpley (Mets), Jordan Yamamoto (Mets) and Johan Quezada (Phillies) have also latched onto division rivals’ rosters this offseason. Each of the three potentially have five-plus years of club control remaining. Will the change of scenery help them flourish?

Poll

Which of these former Miami players will haunt the Marlins most over the next 5 seasons?

This poll is closed

  • 64%
    Marcell Ozuna
    (61 votes)
  • 3%
    Johan Quezada
    (3 votes)
  • 23%
    J.T Realmuto
    (22 votes)
  • 4%
    Stephen Tarpley
    (4 votes)
  • 5%
    Johan Quezada
    (5 votes)
95 votes total Vote Now