A year ago, Marcell Ozuna was hitting .255/.312/421 with 16 homers on the season, and a strong finish to the 2014 campaign would boost those numbers to .269/.317/.455. Paired with above-average center field defense, that production made the then-23-year-old Ozuna look like a core piece in a dynamic young Marlins outfield that could be controlled for the next five seasons.
The 2015 season, though, hasn’t been kind to Ozuna. Through his first 79 contests this season, Ozuna batted .249/.301/.337, including a staggering 1-for-36 slump that saw him strike out 14 times in 37 plate appearances. At that point, the Marlins felt it best for Ozuna to collect himself in the minors and sent him to Triple-A.
Ozuna was excellent in his minor league stint — .317/.379/.558, five homers in 21 games — but he didn’t sound overly thrilled with the fairly lengthy nature of his stay. Ozuna recently returned from that 33-day stint at Triple-A and likened his demotion to a jail sentence. Previously, agent Scott Boras had accused the Marlins of holding Ozuna down in the minor leagues in order to limit his service time and prevent him from reaching arbitration. Additionally, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reported early in the year that there was some frustration over a dip in Ozuna’s speed, leading some in the organization to question his conditioning.
Ozuna’s name crept up in trade rumors prior to the non-waiver deadline, with the Indians surfacing as one team with particular interest. And, just yesterday, Jackson reported that “at least one prominent Marlins person” is open to dangling Ozuna in trades this winter, though there are others in the front office who are more inclined to hang onto him.
Trading Ozuna would be selling low on a player that could certainly blossom into a premium talent, but that same upside would probably be enough to net the Marlins an enticing return. The Marlins are expected to seek two starting pitchers this winter, and for a team with a limited budget, using Ozuna as a trade chip could help to add a cost-controlled young arm to a rotation that will be fronted by a (hopefully) healthy Jose Fernandez.
Because he spent 33 days in the minor leagues this season, Ozuna will accrue 150 days of Major League service time, placing him at two years, 131 days of service. The early projection for Super Two eligibility this season was two years, 140 days, making it easy to see why Boras was upset with the demotion (though questioning the motives for the demotion and the length of stay in the minors would carry more weight if Ozuna hadn’t been playing so poorly prior to being sent down). Ozuna has a chance to be arbitration eligible this winter but could very well fall just shy, meaning any team that acquires him could get one season near the league minimum plus three arbitration years before Ozuna qualifies for free agency after the 2019 season.
The upside of those four years is significant; Ozuna was worth roughly four wins above replacement last season as a 23-year-old, and there hasn’t been an enormous change in his approach this season with the exception of a dip in power. Ozuna’s strikeout rate has actually improved, and his line-drive rate has increased while his walk rate has remained a steady, if unspectacular 6.4 percent. The loss of power is a concern, but if a team feels the decline to be mechanical in nature or feels that its hitting instructors can restore the lost pop, Ozuna could be a well above-average player for a team for at least the next four seasons.
Miami could conceivably trade him to address part of its need in the rotation and either continue using Christian Yelich in center field (perhaps with Derek Dietrich manning left field) or seek a different center field acquisition. The Indians still make sense as a team to revisit talks, while the Mariners, Giants, Brewers and Padres are just a few clubs that could have a need for a long-term center field option this winter (speculatively speaking, of course).
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Brewers who just acquired top prospect Brett Phillips in addition to already having Tyrone Taylor as one of their top 5 prospects do not appear to have a long-term need for a CF. Stopgap for a year? Perhaps. Long term? No.
because prospects don’t bust? taylor is strugging in AA. not too mention centerfielders are capable of playing corners as well. i don’t see a problem there.
Taylor is only 21 and is still a very good prospect despite less than spectacular numbers this year. Phillips was #21 on BA midseason list and his having a fine season and was the centerpiece of the deal with the Astros. No way the Brewers are going to block him with Ozuna or move him off of CF. Not with the other guy acquired from Houston, Domingo Santana, knocking on the door at a corner OF spot. The Brewers could add a cheap veteran to man CF until Phillips arrives late next year but trading for another 23 year old wouldn’t make sense. They have other much more pressing needs for a long term answer at 1B, an upgrade at 3B, and potential replacement for Lucroy in a year or two.
Santana ks a ton. And whats wrong with moving phillips or ozuna to a corner? Assuming phillips doesnt bust because even top 20 prospects bust…
Having three center field-capable outfielders in the same lineup seems to be working out okay for the Pirates.
I would love to see the Giants make a run at this guy. Pagan is done. I’m a big Gregor Blanco fan but the guy isn’t exactly a spring chicken anymore and he always seems to get his share of playing time regardless of who the starters are.
I have wanted to see Ozuna in SF for a while. I know it will be a matter of time before he does become available. The Giants have nothing when it comes to CF depth in the minors. Overall Outfield depth is pretty much non existent. If the Giants ever wanted to consider trading Belt or Susac, this would be the type of guy I would go after. The only way we can get offensive talent into the organization is by drafting and trading…no free agents are coming here in fear of hurting their numbers. We can’t go another year relying on Pagan and Blanco…even if they do, what is the plan for 2017? There is nobody in the system even close to knocking on the door. They are desperate enough to sign Lucious Fox and attempt to change him to CF.
And with the Giants track record of developing outfielders I’m not holding my breath for Fox to work out. Susac needs to get traded asap. Nice player but he will never be able to fulfill his potential on the Giants. Worth more as a trade chip than as a guy who plays once a week. I don’t see Belt going anywhere, as Posey isn’t moving off catcher for a while.
Expos '94 World Champs
So much for that pre-season ESPN article saying the Marlins had the best OF in the majors with Stanton/Yelich/Ozuna…
i still like that of long term. and i think the article was centered around them trying to lock up ozuna long term and then have them all signed through like 2022.
The Marlins gave away all of their cheap, young depth in the offseason for no reason, and then spent the only money they spent on Michael (f)reaking Morse, and then gave up other pieces to have to get away from that mistake, leaving us with a barren farm system once again, and making our injuries all the more impactful b/c we have no depth…
Now they’re trying to get back some of the arms they gave away by moving Ozuna for 25 cents on dollar, opening up another hole. I could mention the ridiculous decisions in the early rounds of the last couple of drafts as well, but that’s unnecessary right now. Great way to run the organization…The Marlins should have PLENTY of money to spend in the offseason, and there are plenty of arms out there. They need at least 2 SPs, and 3 bullpen arms (1 being someone that can actually get lefties out, and 1 that can pitch in the backend of the bullpen in a bullpen that has been terrible for 7 of the last 8 years). However, I doubt Loria will actually spend some money to make up for the terrible mistakes made in the last year, and we would still lack depth anyway.
Then we also have a joke of a managerial situation, which I bet they mess up again
If dietrich continues what he is doing it doesnt open a hole. Im pretty sure they go after a pitcher this offseason with so many available.
Dietrich (Finally getting time in the big leagues, as he has deserved, 3 years after the situation with Tino Martinez that Loria had held a grudge about ever since) has the athleticism to play multiple positions, but these games in the OF are the first action he has ever seen out there. That definitely shows in the numbers as well. He’ll have to improve (which I assume he will) to be a viable option in LF at Marlins Park…Honestly, I dont see why they dont utilize Prado’s versatility a little more as well, but he is also our best 3rd baseman, so that probably is the main reason…I would explore trading Dee Gordon in the offseason. We wont get anything near what we gave up for him in that ridiculously dumb trade, but we should sell high on him for multiple reasons, with one of those reasons being that I’m sick of seeing him constantly get thrown out on the bases
He is forced in to running more with a bad offense behind him. They need stanton back and yelich and ozuna to return to form and he should run less. Stanton adds length to the lineup.
he has been picked off at least 6 times too, and he just makes unbelievably dumb decisions. He also literally swings at everything. Its a good thing he is somehow hitting .330 b/c his OBP is barely .350, which ist really isnt considering all the times he gets thrown out
I wonder just how much the Marlins would be asking for him. Could be interesting for teams like angels, a’s, twins, indians, and white sox since they’ve struggled with power and could potentially look at improvements in the of or dh spots