12:10am: Frisaro tweets that while he hasn’t confirmed anything, he gets the sense that the Marlins covet Walker. However, he adds that the Marlins also aren’t going to give away Ozuna’s potential 30-homer bat in exchange for Elias, thus suggesting that if a trade is ultimately reached, it will be substantial in nature.
10:25pm: Walker “isn’t available,” tweets Crasnick, and Paxton’s health concerns might not great enough that the Marlins wouldn’t part with Ozuna, raising the question of whether or not Elias or Karns would entice Miami.
10:00pm: Frisaro now tweets that the Marlins and Mariners could be aiming to complete a larger deal than just Ozuna for a pitcher. Crasnick tweeted earlier today that many expect Dipoto to trade Mark Trumbo again this winter (he dealt Trumbo from Anaheim to Arizona when he was GM of the Angels), though Trumbo’s lofty arb projection ($9.1MM, per MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz) and the presence of Justin Bour in Miami make Trumbo an imperfect fit for the Fish.
9:48pm: MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro tweets that the Marlins are “fielding a lot of calls” on Ozuna currently, adding that he’s not sure anything is imminent. MLB.com’s Greg Johns also adds (Twitter link) that it “doesn’t sound like anything is imminent.”
9:20pm: Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald cites multiple sources in reporting that the Marlins could be looking at Elias and/or Karns (Twitter link).
8:55pm: The Mariners and Marlins are working on a trade that would send outfielder Marcell Ozuna from Miami to Seattle, reports ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (Twitter link). If consummated, the move would continue what has been an incredibly active offseason for new Seattle GM Jerry Dipoto.
The 25-year-old Ozuna has been an oft-speculated trade candidate after Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria soured him this season. Miami reportedly has hoped to acquire young pitching in any trade of Ozuna, and the Mariners have plenty of controllable arms that could attract the Marlins’ attention. Left-handers James Paxton and Roenis Elias both have substantial amounts of team control remaining, as does right-hander Taijuan Walker and even the recently acquired Nate Karns. Of course, each of those names is just a speculative fit and any could require additional pieces from either side to change hands. Walker and Paxton probably have the highest ceilings of the bunch, though each has a notable injury history at a young age.
Ozuna enjoyed an excellent 2014 campaign in which he batted .269/.317/.455 with 23 homers in his age-23 season despite his pitcher-friendly home park. However, he slumped out of the gates in 2015 and at one point went through a dismal 1-for-36 slump that earned him a trip to Triple-A. Ozuna hit well in the minors, and the length of his demotion led agent Scott Boras to question the Marlins’ motives, alleging that the team was keeping his client in Triple-A to lessen the likelihood of reaching Super Two status by suppressing his service time. Ozuna ultimately fell shy of Super Two designation by roughly one week of service time. Upon returning, Ozuna likened the demotion to a “jail sentence,” which unsurprisingly didn’t sit well with Loria. I profiled Ozuna as a trade candidate at length shortly after his recall, and it’s worth noting that Ozuna produced a robust .286/.329/.487 line from the time that piece was written through season’s end. He’s controllable for another four seasons and won’t be arb-eligible until next winter.
If the Mariners are to acquire Ozuna, he’d presumably become an option in right field, thereby shifting Nelson Cruz into a primarily designated hitter role. Leonys Martin‘s glove probably makes him the preferred option in center field, while Dipoto has already expressed that he expects Franklin Gutierrez and Seth Smith to platoon in left field.
To call Dipoto “active” thus far would be an understatement. Since taking over as the top baseball operations decision-maker in Seattle, he’s acquired Karns from the Rays in a six-player trade, landed late-inning reliever Joaquin Benoit from the Padres in exchange for a pair of prospects, acquired Martin from the division-rival Rangers and picked up utilityman Luis Sardinas from the Brewers in exchange for a minor league outfielder. Dipoto has also re-signed Gutierrez and brought Chris Iannetta to Seattle on a one-year deal in addition to making a pair of waiver claims in the first month or so of the offseason.