The mass exodus of payroll continues in Miami, as the Marlins have agreed to trade their left fielder Marcell Ozuna a person close to the situation told the media early Thursday morning.
Ozuna was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals and becomes the third Marlins All-Star to be traded by the team in December as the organization purges its payroll under its new CEO Derek Jeter.
The source spoke on the condition of not giving his name because the trade was not officially announced and Ozuna needed to take a physical for it to become official.
During the winter meetings being held in Lake Buena Vista, Florida this week, Mike Matheny the manager of the Cardinals said that Ozuna was a name you had to have great respect for, especially for the number of times the team played against him during the season.
The past two seasons, Ozuna has played in the All-Star game. At 27, Ozuna posted career bests in 2017 with a batting average of .312, 37 home runs and 124 RBIs.
He is eligible to have salary arbitration and will likely receive over $10 million. He will become a free agent following the 2019 World Series.
Last Thursday, the Marlins traded Dee Gordon their second baseman to Seattle for three prospects and on Monday dealt starting right fielder and reigning NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton to the Yankees for Starlin Castro and two prospects.
Ozuna is nicknamed “Big Bear,” and will now be out from under the shadow of Stanton in St. Louis.
Some say that it was not Stanton who was the most important player for the Marlins last season, it was Ozuna. Marlins manager Don Mattingly in September said that, and he told a local newspaper in Miami that if he had a vote for the MVP it would be for Ozuna.
Mattingly was adamant that it was not a knock against Stanton, but his attempt to draw more attention to Ozuna who finished last season No. 3 in the NL in home runs with 37, No. 3 in RBIs with 124 and No. 9 in slugging percentage at .548.
Last season St. Louis was 19th in slugging percentage at the cleanup spot, which should change with Ozuna, and their 23 homers from that place in the order was 23rd and the 104 RBIs 14th. Ozuna should help them climb in all three statistical categories.