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Marcell Ozuna Rumors
The Marlins have already reportedly locked up two outstanding young outfielders in Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich, but do not appear to be in position to do the same with regard to center fielder Marcell Ozuna, as MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro reports. Ozuna, 24, says that he is heeding the advice of his agent Scott Boras to wait on exploring a long-term deal.
Of course, that hardly means that Ozuna is going anywhere, as he is under team control through 2019 and plenty of time remains to explore an extension. But Ozuna and his camp do not believe the time is right to do so at present. “[Boras] tells me ‘Don’t hurry,'” said Ozuna. “Be waiting for the moment, and let’s see what happens in a couple of years.” He continued to say that Boras has advised him to focus on his game rather than his next contract. “Let’s see what happens next year,” said Ozuna. “I don’t want something in my head, like a distraction. I’m just going to play the game, and that’s it.”
Miami reportedly approached Ozuna, among other promising young Marlins players, earlier in the offseason. As Frisaro writes — and as he explained further in an appearance on today’s MLBTR Podcast, “preliminary contact” with Ozuna’s representatives did not result in any traction. Whether or not the team is still interested in making a lengthy commitment after its other spending is not clear, though surely it would entertain talks were Ozuna himself inclined to do so.
Unlike Yelich, Ozuna has enough service time (1.153 years) to make Super Two qualification next season a near certainty. That certainly affords him additional protection, to say nothing of the fact that the team committed to him by dealing away fellow center fielder Jake Marisnick at last year’s trade deadline.
Ozuna broke out in 2014, slashing .269/.317/.455 with 23 home runs in 612 plate appearances. With solid to excellent marks on his defense in center, that made him a roughly four-win player. Some swing-and-miss propensities and a relatively high BABIP create some cause for concern, though projection systems still like him to be at least a solid regular moving forward — and the Marlins obviously feel the same way.
The Marlins have already locked up Giancarlo Stanton to a record-setting 13-year deal, and they’re now focusing on extending the rest of their young core. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Fish have made long-term offers to ace Jose Fernandez, left fielder Christian Yelich and shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, with an offer to center fielder Marcell Ozuna expected to come this week.
Heyman doesn’t have specifics on all four of the deals, but he reports that the Fernandez proposal is said to be for six years and about $40MM. It also contains two club options. While that payday may seem light in comparison to Stanton’s contract, it’s worth noting how different the situations of Fernandez and Stanton are. Both are cornerstone players, but Stanton signed his deal with just two years of team control remaining when he was due to earn roughly $13MM in 2015 already. Fernandez is not yet even arbitration eligible (he’ll earn close to the league minimum next year) and is also coming off a season cut short by Tommy John surgery. Stanton, on the other hand, was coming off a second-place MVP finish.
According to Heyman, the offer to Fernandez would be the largest ever for a pitcher with his service time, though there appears to be a bit of disconnect there. Heyman notes that the offer is for “close to” $40MM. Fernandez currently has exactly two years of MLB service, and Gio Gonzalez‘s six-year, $42MM contract is the biggest extension ever signed by a pitcher with two to three years of MLB service (as can be seen in MLBTR’s Extension Tracker). It’s possible that Heyman is simply referring to a player with exactly two years of service or even a player in the low two-year range, but in terms of service class, anything short of $42MM in guaranteed money would fall a bit shy of a record.
The offer to Yelich, according to Heyman, is said to be modeled after Starling Marte‘s six-year, $31.5MM contract, but it contains a smaller guarantee than that deal. There’s still some work to do before the two sides are close to an agreement, he notes. Yelich, who quietly posted roughly a four-WAR season, has just one year and 69 days of MLB service time. Marte’s contract is the second-largest ever for an outfielder with one to two years of service (Ryan Braun‘s $45MM deal is king), but as the Extension Tracker shows, recent extensions for Paul Goldschmidt (five years, $32MM), Jedd Gyorko (five years, $35MM), Anthony Rizzo (seven years, $41MM) and Andrelton Simmons (seven years, $58MM) have all topped the Marte deal in terms of guarantee.
General manager Dan Jennings wouldn’t comment on specific situations, but he expressed confidence to Heyman in locking up his young stars, even Fernandez, who is represented by Scott Boras. “We’ll get it done,” said Jennings. “We’ll get it done with Scott, too; we’ll just have to rassle a little harder.” Boras, of course, is typically averse to advising his young talents to accept extensions before hitting free agency, though there are notable exceptions (including recent cases of Carlos Gonzalez and Carlos Gomez).
To this point, Heyman writes, there’s yet to be an inclination that Fernandez is amenable to a long-term contract with such little experience under his belt and given his injury status. The pair of proposed club options, in particular, would seem to go against Boras’ typical philosophy. However, Jennings maintained optimism and felt that extension talks with all four of his young players are going well: “We’ve had some great exchanges. I feel like we’re moving in the right direction.”
Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna is now being represented by the Boras Corporation, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro reports. According to MLBTR’s Agency Database, Ozuna had previously been represented by the Kinzer Management Group.
As Ozuna isn’t eligible for arbitration until after the 2016 season, it’s probably no surprise that Frisaro reports that Miami hasn’t discussed a contract extension with the 23-year-old outfielder. The cost-conscious Marlins may not want to make a notable financial commitment to Ozuna unless they can get some kind of a bargain over his arb years, and Scott Boras’ track record would seem to make such a team-friendly deal unlikely.
Ozuna’s first full season in the majors has been a successful one, as the 23-year-old has posted a .261/.316/.440 slash line, a 110 wRC+, 18 homers and 56 runs scored in 448 PA. He’s also been solid in center field, exhibiting a strong throwing arm and saving eight runs according to the Defensive Runs Saved metric.
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