There’s plenty of interest in the Marlins outfield even now that it no longer features Giancarlo Stanton. We have heard lots of chatter surrounding Marcell Ozuna already, and there’s yet more intriguing news now emerging on him and teammate Christian Yelich.
The Cardinals are emerging as the favorites from a six to eight team field to land Ozuna, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (Twitter link). Word emerged earlier today that the Cards have interest in sending multiple, controllable outfielders in order to acquire one premium asset, though it’s not yet clear that’s what’s under contemplation. The teams are surely already quite familiar with one another’s feelings on prospects after negotiating over Stanton. And Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, who has long noted the Cards’ interest in Ozuna and Yelich, reported earlier today that the sides might also line up on reliever Brad Ziegler.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals are also among ten or so teams that have inquired on Yelich, per MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro (via Twitter), reflecting longstanding interest that has been covered in recent weeks. The Braves and Diamondbacks are also in that grouping, he notes. Both of those teams make for interesting potential trade partners; in both cases, the interest is likely driven more by their views on Yelich than need, per se.
Clearly, there’s an interesting interplay here between the markets of these two productive teammates. As Joel Sherman of the New York Post notes on Twitter, Yelich is considered the more desirable asset given his lengthy, team-friendly contract. His report suggests the Fish would prefer to make a deal for Ozuna first, as the organization has given indications it would like to try to find a way to retain Yelich. It’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out given the multi-faceted considerations at play.
While he only has two years of control remaining and will play at a projected $10.9MM in 2018, Ozuna is fresh off of a monster 2017 season in which he blasted 37 home runs and slashed .312/.376/.548 over 679 plate appearances. That handily outpaced Yelich, whose own .282/.369/.439 batting line represented a step back from an outstanding 2016 season. Still, many around the game are enamored of Yelich’s bat as well as his overall game, so he’s plainly the more valuable trade piece in light of the fact that he can be controlled through 2022. (His contract promises just $44.5MM, including a buyout on a $15MM club option for that ’22 campaign.)