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.