LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- To make an impactful move that would reshape their system, the Marlins had to part ways with one of their most productive players. The tradeoff, the organization believes, is worth it.
On Thursday afternoon, the Marlins announced that All-Star left fielder Marcell Ozuna was headed to the Cardinals for four prospects, including three who were previously ranked in the top 13 of St. Louis' system, according to MLBPipeline.com.
Right-hander Sandy Alcantara, outfielder Magneuris Sierra, right-hander Zac Gallen and lefty Daniel Castano are headed to the Marlins.
The teams reached agreement on Wednesday, and on Thursday afternoon, the trade was announced a couple of hours after the Winter Meetings wrapped up.
The infusion of talent in this trade has dramatically altered the Marlins' Top 30 Prospects list, with Alcantara becoming the organization's No. 1, per MLBPipeline.com. Sierra ranks fifth and Gallen is 15th.
"As we talked in our room in Orlando, we spoke of impact," Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. "We talked about championship-caliber talent and making that a priority as we look to make all of our deals.
"As we go through this [building process], the goal is to add championship-caliber talent to this organization that's going to put us in position to win a championship. You do that with elite talent, upper-echelon talent."
Alcantara, 22, has a fastball that touches 100 mph, and he made eight relief appearances for the Cardinals in 2017, posting a 4.32 ERA with 10 strikeouts and six walks in 8 1/3 innings.
According to Statcast™, his four-seam fastball -- based on 45 total pitches -- averaged 98.51 mph. The MLB average for the pitch was 93.19 mph.
Sierra, 21, saw action in 22 big league games for St. Louis, batting .317 with a .359 on-base percentage. A speedster, Sierra projects to play center field and bat leadoff.
Alcantara and Sierra will compete in Spring Training for Opening Day roster spots. However, the Marlins will not rush their development as they are part of a bigger picture -- to be part of the organization's future.
Ozuna, 27, is two years away from free agency, and he was projected to make just under $11 million in arbitration, according to MLBTradeRumors.com. A two-time All-Star, Ozuna is coming off a career year, batting .312 with 37 home runs and 124 RBIs.
"There's no question that Marcell Ozuna is a tremendous talent," Hill said. "You look at the return we were able to get for him, you see how talented he was.
"As we started our offseason, the goal is a consistent one, we need to improve our overall talent, improve our depth. When you think about Marcell, a four-plus [year] Major League service outfielder, two years away from free agency, we just felt this was an opportunity to maximize our return."
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The Marlins have made three major trades in a week, starting with Dee Gordon going to the Mariners on Dec. 7, followed by reigning National League MVP Award winner Giancarlo Stanton being dealt to the Yankees on Monday for Starlin Castro, Jorge Guzman and Jose Devers.
After moving roughly $340 million off their books, the Marlins have no urgency to trade any more core players from the '17 roster. There are rumblings that outfielder Christian Yelich does not want to go through a rebuild, and there's speculation he could be traded.
"Christian Yelich is a three-plus [year] Major League service outfielder for the Marlins under control for the next five years," Hill said. "I'm extremely excited that he's part of our organization."
Hill added he likely will soon touch base with Yelich.
Castro projects to replace Gordon at second, and Guzman is another hard-thrower with top-of-the-rotation potential. Like Alcantara, Guzman's fastball reaches 100 mph.
Guzman is ranked second on the revised Marlins Top 30.
"The starters we brought back [from the Cardinals and Yankees], we feel as they continue to develop and they reach their potential, these are pieces that can lead a rotation," Hill said. "Mid-to-upper 90-mph fastballs are just the start of it."