Marlins continue fire sale, dealing Ozuna to Cardinals

Miami has traded left-fielder Marcell Ozuna to the St. Louis Cardinals, the third all-star jettisoned by the Marlins this month in an unrelenting payroll purge under new CEO Derek Jeter.

Two-time all-star outfielder set career highs in 2017 with 37 homers, 124 RBIs

The Marlins have traded Marcell Ozuna, left, to the Cardinals after he set career highs with 37 home runs and 124 RBIs in 2017. Fellow outfielder Christian Yelich could be next as Miami continues to slash payroll. (Joe Skipper/Getty Images)

Miami has traded left-fielder Marcell Ozuna to the St. Louis Cardinals, the third all-star jettisoned by the Marlins this month in an unrelenting payroll purge under new CEO Derek Jeter.

In exchange for the 27-year-old slugger, they receive pitching prospects Sandy Alcantara, Zac Gallen, Daniel Castano and minor league outfielder Magneuris Sierra.

"Ozuna is one of those names that you have to have great respect, especially as much we see him," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said at the winter meetings in Orlando, Fla. "We're at that necessary point of talking through health always, no matter what the player is. It's not just a formality."

An all-star the past two seasons, the 27-year-old Ozuna set career bests this season with a .312 average, 37 homers and 124 runs batted in. He is eligible for salary arbitration and likely will earn more than $10 million US. He can become a free agent after the 2019 season.

Miami traded second baseman Dee Gordon to Seattle last Thursday for three prospects and dealt right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, the reigning National League MVP, to the New York Yankees on Monday for second baseman Starlin Castro and two prospects. 

Marlins manager Don Mattingly said he's excited about the direction of the franchise, which hasn't had a winning season since 2009. Mattingly defended his new boss, and predicted Jeter will improve as a baseball executive, just as he improved at shortstop.

"Derek may be the first to admit, 'Hey, I would do some things maybe a little differently,"' Mattingly said. "I don't know that. But I look back to Derek's first year in pro ball. He makes 58 errors — 50-something errors — at shortstop, and we know what happened after that."

Jeter actually committed 56 errors at Single-A Greensboro in 1993, his second pro season. He went on to become a 14-time all-star.

Mattingly anticipates that Jeter will approach his new job the same way he approached his last one.

"He has got a lot on his plate, a lot going on, a lot happening very fast," said Mattingly, who played with Jeter on the Yankees and later coached him. "But I fully expect any adjustments that he has to make or that he thinks he has to make, we're just going to move forward. We're not going to look back. We're going to keep our eye on the prize and where we're going, and we'll make the adjustments as an organization."

Piscotty on the move

In St. Louis, Ozuna likely will be in the outfied with Dexter Fowler and Tommy Pham. On Thursday, the Cardinals traded right-fielder Stephen Piscotty to Oakland.

Matheny wouldn't commit to an alignment.

"Something we're appreciative of is the humility of our players to maybe go to a spot where they haven't been before," he said. "You go in with your ideals of what you would like to see, and you're going to have to be flexible."

Centre-fielder Christian Yelich could be the next to exit the downsizing Marlins, bought by Bruce Sherman's group on Oct. 2.

Miami had a $116 million US payroll on Aug. 31, up from $81 million at the end of last year, and is intent on reducing obligations. Stanton was owed $295 million over the next decade, and Gordon $38 million through 2020.


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