NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna could be on the move. No, neither is being discussed in trade talks, but the Marlins are considering switching their outfield spots.
During his media session at the Winter Meetings on Wednesday, manager Don Mattingly talked about Stanton and Ozuna flip-flopping, with Stanton moving from right to left and Ozuna left to right.
Nothing is official, but the organization is exploring its defensive metrics, and there is a feeling the club may be better in the field with Stanton in left field and Ozuna in right field.
Stanton has been an anchor in right field since he was promoted to the big leagues at age 20 in June 2010. The 27-year-old slugger has appeared in 827 MLB games, and he was not in right field just once (excluding nine games at designated hitter in American League parks). In his 6,947 2/3 innings defensively, Stanton has a mere one inning in center field (in '10), and the rest have been in right.
Ozuna has been a right fielder, but he has played mostly center in the big leagues. Midway through 2016, Miami switched Christian Yelich from left field to center, where he is expected to remain.
In spacious Marlins Park, it is important to having outfielders who can run. The belief is Yelich, a former National League Gold Glove Award-winning left fielder, covers more ground than Ozuna, so he moved to center.
"We liked what we've seen with [Yelich's] first step out there, the routes that he took," Mattingly said. "With our outfield as big as it is, we think that he's got closing speed, that long speed. He's not a quick-quick-burst guy out of the box, but he is a long-speed guy. ... He's a long strider. We've got a big outfield and we feel like he fits best there in center field."
Spring Training could be a chance to acclimate Stanton to left field.
"Obviously, right now Giancarlo is a guy that's been comfortable in right," Mattingly said. "Marcell is a guy that's showed he can play left, center or right. We are digging into the metrics of Giancarlo and Marcell.
"We want to put the best club on the field, and what's best for each guy and how [we're] the best team. We are just getting up to speed, I think, with the analytics within our organization. ... We're trying to put the right people in the right spots and make sure metrically we are paying attention. With the analytics, there's so much information. We do want to be able to evaluate our guys, and that's part of it."