If you regularly read this site (or are a fan of the Marlins at all) you’re probably aware that Big Jeff Loria has expressed dissatisfaction with Marcell Ozuna this season, both with his on field play and behavior off the diamond.
You are likely further aware that when it comes to this teams personnel decisions what Big Jeff wants, or doesn’t want in this case, Big Jeff gets. So naturally the combination of these two things have made it reasonably obvious that the Fish will look to move Ozuna over the course of this off season, the only question is where?
There have been a few places that have popped up in the rumor mill, namely the two Ohio teams the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds.
Cleveland is the first and most probable trade partner, having their name mentioned as being interested by several publications. This makes sense, with Michael Bourn being sent to Atlanta, the Tribe really doesn’t have any outfield talent outside of Michael Brantley. In addition Cleveland rated as the worst defensive team in the majors for the second straight year last season so Ozzie’s ability to play above average outfield defense (sometimes… probably) must look extremely attractive.
So there’s reason to believe the Cleveland would be interested, but what can they offer back?
Exactly what the Marlins need (aside from keeping a young, talented, and controllable Center fielder of course) a selection of promising young pitchers with a solid amount of team control. The three that the Tribe has supposedly made available, of which the Fish will only receive one, are Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, and Danny Salazar.
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Of the three Carrasco is the most talented. His 3.63 ERA last season was massively over inflated from a 2.66 xFIP, likely due to pitching his home games in a hitters park, as well as the abominable defense behind him. Carrasco misses bats at an excellent 10.58 K/9 pace, while only walking 2.11 batters per 9 innings. When Batter’s do make contact it’s likely to result in a ground ball, as Carrasco maintained a GB% of 51.25%, solidly above average. Finally at 22 million dollars over 4 years Carrasco’s contract is a plus.
With all that value it is unlikely that the Fish would be able to get him for only Ozuna, as long as the additional price tag is not too heavy it should be worth it.
Neither of the other two is truly worth Ozuna. Salazar has great stuff but tends to rush through his delivery and miss the strike zone, when he hits it all to often the pitch is too close to the heart of the plate and gets crushed, in other words he’s Ubaldo Jimenez.
Bauer is a close study of advanced statistics and as such tends to be overrated by members of that community. As a member of that community I can tell you that saber-metrics are of very little use to players, which is fine because they are not meant to be. Bauer can look at all the stats he wants, a player’s skill set is what it is by the time he’s in the majors, and Bauer’s just isn’t very useful.
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Comparatively the Cincinnati rumors are just that, rumors with a bit of speculation mixed in for good measure. The big Red name being mentioned is Aroldis Chapman, as rebuilding teams like the Reds tend to move expensive closers like him for young and controllable players like Ozuna.
The problem with this trade from Miami’s perspective is obvious, they are also a rebuilding team and thus would be doing the exact opposite of what they should be doing.
Unfortunately this is the exact kind of trade the Loria has shown a preference for in the past, no matter how illogical it seem, Ozuna for Chapman is a very real possibility.
There are lots of names swirling in the rumor mill about trades for Ozuna, of all the likely returns only Carrasco stands as a solid improvement, knowing the Marlins FO that probably means it’s the least likely to happen.
Earlier today, Joe Frisaro of MLB.com did mention the Marlins are leaning towards keeping Ozuna.
"* There is plenty of speculation that center fielder Marcell Ozuna, who turns 25 on Thursday, will be traded. The club is willing to listen on potential offers, but the sentiment is Miami is leaning heavily in favor of retaining Ozuna. It would take a really attractive package for Ozuna to be moved."
This Ozuna saga is likely to drag on for most of the off-season, until the team says he’ll stay put or he is traded.