Miami not rushing to move likely trade target Ozuna
Outfielder promises to attract attention, but Marlins won't go below market value
MIAMI -- Heading into the General Managers Meetings, which started on Monday in Boca Raton, Fla., the Marlins anticipated a number of teams inquiring about outfielder Marcell Ozuna.
The subject of trade speculation since July, Ozuna promises to attract plenty of attention, but Miami doesn't have any urgency to move one of its most coveted assets.
"This is one of the great lines that we all say: Everybody can be traded, some are less likely than others," Marlins president David Samson said.
Although it's unclear if Ozuna's future will be with the Marlins, one thing is certain: The team insists it will not deal the power-hitting outfielder for a below-market offer. Still, Ozuna might be the biggest trade chip Miami has to acquire a front-line starting pitcher.
Ozuna, who turns 25 on Thursday, is coming off a shaky season, posting a slash line of .259/.308/.383 with 10 home runs and 44 RBIs.
Without question, it was a disappointing campaign. But the Marlins recognize their Opening Day center fielder is far from a finished product. In 2014, Ozuna showed great promise in his first full big league season. In 153 games, his line was .269/.317/.455 with 23 home runs and 85 RBIs.
A year ago, the Marlins openly stated they felt their trio of Christian Yelich, Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton formed the best outfield in the National League. One down year didn't change their opinion.
There is a question, however, if Ozuna has fallen out of favor with the organization. Represented by agent Scott Boras, the outfielder declined a contract extension last offseason.
Ozuna did show up to Spring Training a bit heavy, and he struggled in the first half, leading the Marlins to option him to Triple-A New Orleans in early July.
Ozuna was recalled in mid-August. The extended Minor League stay impacted his service time. Instead of qualifying for Super Two status and being arbitration-eligible in 2016, the outfielder now will reach that status in 2017.
The Marlins fielded calls on Ozuna before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. The Indians, who have high-end pitching, were one of the interested clubs.
The Marlins are open to retaining Ozuna, because right-handed power is hard to find.
Samson also made a point to say Ozuna had nothing to do with the dismissal of Dan Jennings as manager and general manager. There have been reports that Jennings put Ozuna in the lineup when owner Jeffrey Loria wanted the outfielder to sit.
"It's very frustrating to read Ozuna's name as having anything to do with the managerial change, at all," Samson said. "He had nothing to do with it, literally, at all.
"We talk lineups with our managers. We don't give our lineups to managers. We had several candidates for manager who actually were given lineups. We don't do that, at all. We have conversations, of course. All of us, because that's the normal course of business."