At 23-31 and nine games out of a National League wild-card spot, the Marlins are on track for a potentially interesting sale around the trade deadline, according to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal (video link). Barring a turnaround, the Marlins will be “wide open” entering the deadline, says Rosenthal, who reports they’d be willing to listen to offers for outfielders Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna and catcher J.T. Realmuto.
Miami has put Ozuna on the block in the past, but considering proposals for Yelich and/or Realmuto would represent a 180 for the franchise. Back in November, the Marlins weren’t interested in entertaining offers for either player, but the team surely had designs on contending for a playoff spot at the time. Now, with that looking unlikely, dealing from their young core could help the Marlins restock a farm system that ESPN’s Keith Law (subscription required and recommended) ranked as the majors’ second worst before the season.
Yelich, in Year 3 of a seven-year, $49.57MM contract that also includes a $15MM club option or $1.25MM buyout for 2018, would surely appeal to all outfield-needy teams as a trade chip. The 25-year-old established himself as one of the game’s top young outfielders from 2013-16, but he hasn’t quite performed to expectations in the first two months of the current campaign. Still, Yelich has hit a decent .270/.349/.410 with seven home runs in 229 plate appearances, posted a 10 percent walk rate in line with his career average (10.4 percent) and logged a personal-best strikeout mark of 17.5 percent (compared to a lifetime 20.6 percent). One of Yelich’s main problems, it seems, has been a .301 batting average on balls in play – down from a career .356. Defensively, the strong work Yelich did in left field from 2013-16 has transferred this year to center, where he has taken over for Ozuna and recorded four Defensive Runs Saved and a 7.5 UZR/150.
Ozuna doesn’t come with as much control as Yelich, on the other hand, but he’s on an affordable salary this year ($3.5MM) and scheduled to go through arbitration two more times. The 26-year-old is enjoying his best season, having slashed .322/.385/.563 with 14 homers and a personal-high 9.5 percent walk rate in 231 trips to the plate. While Ozuna’s .357 BABIP – up from a career .322 – might not last, his .371 expected weighted on-base average (via Baseball Savant) suggests his success hasn’t been a fluke. The defensive switch has paid off, too, as Ozuna has saved six runs and managed a 15.2 UZR/150 a year after logging minus-12 DRS and a minus-3.4 Ultimate Zone Rating in center.
Realmuto, meanwhile, is the cheapest of the three at the moment ($562,500 salary) and slated to go through arbitration for the first time during the upcoming offseason. Given that he’s under control through 2020 and among the majors’ premier catchers, the 26-year-old Realmuto would surely bring back a haul in a trade. Realmuto broke out last year when he racked up 3.5 fWAR and hit .303/.343/428 with 11 homers and 12 steals across 545 PAs. He was a mixed bag defensively, though, registering minus-8 DRS and ranking toward the bottom of the league as a pitch framer, according to both Baseball Prospectus and StatCorner. Realmuto did draw plus marks as a thrower and blocker, however, and that has continued this season. Moreover, he’s in the midst of a major turnaround as a framer, per BP, which has him near the top of the majors in the early going.
While the Marlins won’t have any difficulty moving Yelich, Ozuna or Realmuto if they’re motivated to do so, the same likely won’t be true regarding right fielder Giancarlo Stanton. The slugger could still rake in $295MM over the next 10 years on his current contract, and getting out from under that might make the up-for-sale franchise more palatable to potential buyers. However, the Marlins probably won’t be able to deal Stanton until at least the offseason, suggests Rosenthal, and his full no-trade clause only further complicates matters.