The Marlins made separate trade offers to the Rangers and Reds for Marcell Ozuna earlier this winter, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports. The Fish wanted starting pitching back in both proposed deals, and it seems as if there was little-to-no room for further negotiations in these offers; Jackson writes that the Marlins “decided internally that they would trade [Ozuna] only if those teams met their exact asking price.”
It should be noted that these offers were both made before Miami signed Wei-Yin Chen, so the team’s need for rotation help is no longer quite as dire. Still, as the Marlins feel “a team can never have enough pitching,” Jackson thinks the Fish would revisit trading Ozuna if Texas or Cincinnati agreed to their demands.
Ozuna has been mentioned in rumors for months as a major trade chip Miami could use to acquire at least one solid young rotation piece. Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria reportedly had developed some bad blood with Ozuna and agent Scott Boras over Ozuna’s demotion to Triple-A (which Boras claimed was done to stall Ozuna’s service time and not for developmental reasons) so it was seen as just a matter of time before a trade was finalized.
While at least 10 teams showed interest and at least one deal (with the Mariners) was heavily discussed, however, the tide had seemingly turned towards Ozuna staying in Miami. Personal issues aside, Loria and the front office were insisting on a very big return for Ozuna and weren’t willing to just give such a promising young outfielder away. New manager Don Mattingly and new hitting coach Barry Bonds were also lobbying to keep Ozuna, which undoubtedly played a factor. Since Chen is also a Boras client, it stands to reason that relations between Loria and the agent have also somewhat improved.
The Rangers have been connected to Ozuna in trade rumors for months, though it’s something of an imperfect fit since while Texas has some intriguing young arms (i.e. Chi Chi Gonzalez, Nick Martinez), they could use those reinforcements themselves in the Major League rotation. Delino DeShields also emerged as a good center fielder for the Rangers in 2015 so they didn’t have a huge need at the position, though Ozuna would’ve been an upgrade.
This is the first time we’ve heard of the Reds attached to Ozuna, though their interest makes sense given their outfield needs. Right fielder Jay Bruce is entering his last guaranteed year under contract and is available for trades, while the Reds are currently planning to use a platoon of unproven youngsters in left. Of course, Billy Hamilton is already Cincinnati’s regular center fielder, and he’s shown such a spectacular glove that if Ozuna did join the Reds, he’d be the one moving to left.
While the Reds have been in rebuild mode by dealing Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, Marlon Byrd, Aroldis Chapman and Todd Frazier in the last seven months, Ozuna (25) is young enough to fit Walt Jocketty’s plan to quickly reload and contend again by 2017. Even moreso than Texas, however, Cincinnati is lacking in pitching depth — they were using an all-rookie rotation for much of last season after Cueto and Leake were dealt. The Reds have righties Robert Stephenson and Keury Mella and southpaws Amir Garrett and Cody Reed among their top prospects, and the club may prefer to see if those young arms can develop into long-term pieces for their uncertain rotation rather than deal one or more of them for Ozuna.