Miami Marlins: Marcell Ozuna Could be Traded this Off-Season?

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Earlier today my co-editor Charlie Clark wrote about how Marcell Ozuna described his time in New Orelans as a “jail sentence.” Ozuna, nor his agent Scott Boras, were too thrilled about the Miami Marlins potentially keeping Ozuna down in Triple-A to slow down his arbitration clock. 

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A grievance from Ozuna, Boras, and the players’ union is still very likely, as Ozuna could be out at least $10 million in future contract value by losing out a year of his arbitration this off-season.

There was chatter around Ozuna potentially being moved around the deadline, with especial smoke around a potential Ozuna to the Cleveland Indians deal potentially being in the works. The Marlins went as far as to scout some of the Indians’ pitching.

Moving Marcell Ozuna is still very much on the table, and it  a real possibility this off-season, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.

"### There are mixed views inside the Marlins about whether to consider trades this winter for outfielder Marcell Ozuna, with some still high on him but at least one prominent Marlins person open to using him as a carrot in a deal."

Ozuna was demoted to Triple-A New Orleans on July 5th. He had been mired in a 1-for-38 slump at the time and owned a .249/.301/.337 slash line in 322 plate appearances. The team’s decision to demote Ozuna was justified, at the time, as Ozuna looked really lost at the plate.

However, when Giancarlo Stanton went down with his hand injury, the team opted to go with Cole Gillispie and Ichiro Suzuki in the outfield, instead of calling Ozuna back up to the majors. Ozuna recovered nicely at Triple-A, posting a .317/.379/.558 slash line in 132 plate appearances, so it was curious why the team kept him in the minors at the time.

As we moved closer to the trade deadline, the rumors began to surface that the Marlins were keeping Marcell Ozuna in Triple-A long enough to make sure he’d lose his Super-2 eligibility. The team had to keep him in the minors for longer than 20 days, as he would still have racked up major league time if he was called up before the 20 days.

The decision to keep Ozuna in the minors could potentially cost him over $10 million over the course of his arbitration, as he likely would have earned between $1 to $3 million after this season with his Super-2 status, with raises each of the next 3 times through arbitration.

With Boras being Ozuna’s agent and the player’s union already looking into the Dodgers paying 25% of the Marlins salary, you can bet there will be a grievance filed against the Marlins at some point.

While the Marlins did have the right to send him down, considering his struggles, Ozuna does not believe the 1-for-38 slump was the Marlins reasoning for demoting him.

"“They tell me you’re going down for work, get your feeling back and you come back,” Ozuna said Saturday. “I know what happened when they sent me down. I knew that’s coming. I don’t go there for work, because they know me. I don’t need the work. One for 36, 1 for 100, every big-league player has it. I have it and everybody has it.”"

While it’s unlikely Ozuna would request a trade from the Marlins, it should not surprise people if he becomes a trade chip this off-season. He’d likely be the best trade chip the Marlins would have, as the farm system is barren and despite their evaluation of Dee Gordon and Adeiny Hechavarria is unlikely to line up with the rest of the leagues view on the two. 

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With the Marlins desperately needing starting pitching help, trading Ozuna for a top-of-the-line starter makes some sense. The Indians have some interesting arms, including Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer, who the Marlins should have interest in. Teams like the Mariners, Giants, Brewers and Padres could also be in need of a center fielder this off-season.

If the Marlins do indeed decided to use Marcell Ozuna as a trade chip, they should find a ton of interest in the 24-year old. Their decision to keep Ozuna in the minors and slow down his arbitration clock could also pay-off, as more team control could lead to more trade value.

The situation between the Miami Marlins and center fielder Marcell Ozuna is far from over. In fact, it could get even more interesting this off-season.

Follow Marlin Maniac on Twitter @MarlinManiac for all your Miami Marlins news, opinion and analysis!

Next: Ozuna Calls New Orleans Jail

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