The big-league Miami Marlins are plodding along with Major League Baseball’s second-lowest winning percentage, and the minor-league outfits are woefully short on prospects.
Add in their seemingly inevitable ownership change, and this franchise looks ripe for some cage-rattling trades. But who goes?
Marcell Ozuna is a logical candidate, according to Fox Sports, which ranks him sixth among the best baseball players who could be traded this summer.
“The Marlins are in free fall, and with a depleted farm system (perhaps the worst in baseball) they should highly consider making major moves to start a rebuild,” Dieter Kurtenbach wrote. “Giancarlo Stanton’s contract is too big to move, but Ozuna, who was sent to the minors in 2015 but was an All-Star last year and is playing even better this season, isn’t [too expensive] and that means he could be the big piece the Marlins move in an effort to reboot.”
Ozuna has been one of Miami’s few bright spots. The 26-year-old leads the club with 29 RBIs, shares the home run lead with Stanton at 11 and sits second among the starters with a .302 batting average.
Ozuna will not reach free agency until 2019 and seems highly unlikely to sign an extension any time before then as a Scott Boras client. While that allows the Marlins some time to figure things out, they may want to move on this sooner than later if they don’t think they’ll re-sign him. His price tag will only drop the closer he gets to the open market.
WASHINGTON — Adam Lind’s first swing as a member of the Nationals resulted in a pinch-hit, go-ahead, two-run homer in the seventh inning, and Bryce Harper went deep on opening day for the fifth time in his young career, leading Washington past the Miami Marlins 4-2 on Monday.
Stephen Strasburg (1-0) earned the win, allowing two runs and six hits in seven innings, pitching out of the stretch the whole way. It was his return to action after missing last September and the playoffs with a right elbow injury.
Otherwise, it was a good showing by some of the reigning NL East champion’s new pieces.
Catcher Matt Wieters singled off a soft liner ahead of Lind’s drive into the first row in right-center off reliever David Phelps (0-1) that made it 3-2.
Center fielder Adam Eaton doubled, walked twice, stole a base and scored a run. Wieters and Lind were free-agent signings; Eaton came over from the Chicago White Sox in a much-debated trade.
Plus, Blake Treinen, a holdover but a closer for the first time, pitched the ninth for a save — only his second in the majors.
Treinen took on the 4-5-6 hitters for Miami, getting Giancarlo Stanton to pop out in foul territory, struck out Justin Bour swinging, then Marcell Ozuna looking.
The Nationals trailed 2-0 before Harper put them on the board in the sixth with a no-doubt solo shot off a 95 mph pitch from Phelps, who came in after Miami starter Edinson Volquez went five scoreless innings.
Harper, the 2015 NL MVP coming off a down year, added to his opening-day collection of homers: two in 2013, one each in 2015 and 2016.
Lind turned on a 2-0 fastball, then was coaxed out of the dugout for a curtain call by the loud sellout crowd of 42,744 on a cloudy afternoon.
REMEMBERING NO. 16
Michael Hill, the Marlins’ president of baseball operations, wore a black lapel pin with the number “16,” the jersey worn by Jose Fernandez, the charismatic ace who died when his boat crashed late last season. “He’s gone, and that’s something that we all have to come to grips with and accept,” Hill said. “But his memory will always be a bond for this team and for me as well.”
Said manager Don Mattingly: “I actually thought about him this morning, just that you miss this guy.”
Nationals: 3B Anthony Rendon was out of the lineup after fouling a ball off his calf during spring training. Manager Dusty Baker said it was his decision for Rendon to sit, noting that the player wanted to start. “He could’ve played if I’d had wanted to push him,” Baker said, “but I decided not to.”
After an off-day Tuesday, Washington sends RHP Tanner Roark to the mound against Miami newcomer Dan Straily for Game 2 on Wednesday. Roark’s final spring training tuneup was rained out, but he threw a bullpen session of about 85 pitches to try to stay on track for the beginning of the season.
In this installment, Keri listed the players who were top-50 selections before last season and have now fallen out of the rankings. Stanton was one of those players, falling from 28th in 2016 to off the board now.
“The biggest contract in baseball history might also be on the verge of becoming untradeable,” Keri wrote. “Stanton is owed $91.5 million over the next four seasons and can either opt out after the 2020 season or make another $218 million guaranteed after that. That’s a hefty deal for a player who’s topped 123 games played just once in the past five years.”
Stanton has played just 193 of a possible 324 games over the past two seasons, while his batting average and on-base percentage have declined in both. That’s not the greatest trend for someone with a heavily backloaded structure, although there’s time for the 27-year-old to turn things around.
There were seven players ranked higher than Stanton in 2016 who also fell off the list, including the aforementioned Kershaw. The Los Angeles Dodgers can thank the clause in his contract that allows him to become a free agent following an in-season trade for his fall.
With slugger Giancarlo Stanton likely out for the season with a groin injury, Miami Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said the team is considering all possible replacements, including Rodriguez, who is a Miami native.
“I think we’re going through that process right now,” Hill told MLB.com. “We’re putting our list together of options. [Rodriguez] is available, so he will be on that list. We’ll see where that goes.”
Rumors grew Monday as ESPN’s Jim Bowden reported A-Rod to the Marlins was “going to happen.”
Rodriguez played DH for nearly all of his last two seasons with the Yankees, so with the Marlins, he would likely come off the bench or play first base. The three-time MVP and 14-time All Star has 696 career home runs, which is fourth on the all-time list. He hit .200 with nine home runs and a .598 on-base plus slugging percentage this season.
.@JimBowden_ESPN: ARod to the #Marlins is going to happen, has to clear waivers Monday but it's going to happen. Play 1B
“I told him ‘boom goes the dynamite would have been better,”’ Stanton said.
Whatever the call, the Marlins $325 million man was happy to finally see something resembling the swing he is looking to take into the regular season. The home run was the first Stanton has hit in a game since June 24. Two days later, Stanton broke a bone in his left hand during an at bat, ending his season.
“It’s good to get on top of a fastball that I seemed to pop up the past couple of weeks,” Stanton said after the Marlins’ 4-1 loss Wednesday to the Cardinals.
Stanton, though, has an excuse. He’s had just 17 at bats after missing about a week because of knee soreness. He is hitting .235 with two RBI. He was 1 for 3 Wednesday.
“I’m roughly where I’m (usually) at,” he said. “I’ve had only 17 at bats. That’s not where I’d usually be but I don’t necessarily need a certain amount of at bats, rather a feel in the spring.”
Still, Stanton is looking to refine that powerful swing in the next 13 days leading up to the April 5 opener against Detroit in Miami.
“Just a few more of those, not homers, hitting fastballs hard,” he said when asked what he’s like to achieve.
“Just to be on top of fastballs,” “Popping them up means you’re either late or dipping a little bit. That’s the first sign of your midseason slumps, which is normal this time. Get on top of one especially in the mid-90s. … that’s a good test. I’m glad I had some velocity today to test it.”
Manager Don Mattingly said Stanton will get plenty of at bats in the final nine exhibition games.
“He just needs at bats,” Mattingly said. “I think you’ll see him having batter swings.”