The Miami Marlins and Seattle Mariners are discussing a trade that would send outfielder Marcell Ozuna to the Mariners in exchange for pitching, as first reported by Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.
Since hiring new GM Jerry Dipoto, the Mariners have been the most active team in baseball, swinging trades and signing several free agents. Thus far, the Mariners have acquired closer Joaquin Benoit, outfielder Leonys Martin, infielder Luis Sardinas, and pitcher Nate Karns in trades. Additionally, the team re-signed outfielder Franklin Gutierrez and signed catcher Chris Iannetta.
— MarinersPR (@MarinersPR) November 23, 2015
Now, the team has set its sights on Ozuna, a 25-year-old outfielder coming off the worst season of his young career. After swatting 23 HR and driving in 85 runs for the Marlins in 2014, Ozuna established himself as one of the most intriguing young players in the game. But a rough beginning to 2015 resulted in Ozuna being sent down to the minor leagues.
Ozuna fared well during his demotion, hitting.317 with 12 doubles, five HR, and 11 RBI through 33 games in Triple-A. After being recalled to the Major Leagues, Ozuna spoke to the Miami Herald and compared his time in the minor leagues to being in jail.
“I was in the jail over there. It’s like a jail. But it’s OK. I’m back, and I’m going to help the team, help Miami.”
Reports suggested that the Marlins’ decision to demote Ozuna was not solely based on his on-field struggles, but to delay his eligibility for arbitration. Prior to being sent down, Ozuna had less than two years of MLB service time, meaning that if the Marlins kept him in Triple-A long enough, they could keep him under team control longer. In the same interview, Ozuna expressed his displeasure with the team’s decision.
“They tell me you’re going down for work, get your feeling back and you come back, I know what happened when they sent me down. I knew that’s coming. I don’t go there for work, because they know me. I don’t need the work. One for 36, 1 for 100, every big-league player has it. I have it and everybody has it.”
In 123 games, Ozuna finished 2015 batting.259 with 10 HR and 44 RBI.
Early indications are that the Marlins are looking for young pitching in exchange for Ozuna. The Mariners match up well in that department as they have pitchers Taijuan Walker, James Paxton, and Roenis Elias to offer. But Crasnick followed up on those reports, saying that Walker is not available and speculating whether or not Elias or the aforementioned Nate Karns would suffice.
The Mariners acquired Karns in a six-player trade with the Tampa Bays, as previously reported by The Inquisitr.
Joe Frisaro of MLB.com reports that the belief is the Marlins “covet” the 23-year-old Walker. Despite struggles to stay healthy, Walker’s blazing fastball and above average secondary pitches have people in the game believing he could be a future Cy Young award winner.
— Seattle Times Sports (@SeaTimesSports) September 25, 2015
In 2015, Walker made a career-high 29 starts while going 11-8 with a 4.56 ERA.
As for Paxton and Elias, the two left-handers also have a ton of question marks heading into 2016. Both have power arms and experienced some success in the majors, but have yet to prove they can maintain it for a full season. Frisaro expanded on his report, saying the Marlins are unlikely to trade Ozuna straight-up for Elias.
There are some rumblings that the Marlins and Mariners could possibly agree on a trade that’s “larger deal than simply Ozuna for a starting pitcher.” It’s possible the Mariners may trade first baseman/outfielder Mark Trumbo in such a deal (per Crasnick).
But at this moment, no trade appears imminent, per Greg Johns of MLB.com.
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