Update (5:06 PM ET): The Cardinals have been labeled as the favorites to land outfielder Marcell Ozuna from the Marlins, according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale.
After losing out on the Giancarlo Stanton sweepstakes (in frustrating fashion), St. Louis has not slowed their pursuit of impact bats. While Stanton ultimately chose to join the now-loaded Yankees, the Cardinals' trade talks with Miami should give the Marlins an in-depth understanding of St. Louis' farm system.
The Cardinals may prefer to deal from their surplus of MLB-ready outfielders to acquire Ozuna, who has two seasons of team control remaining before free agency. Cardinals outfielders Stephen Piscotty, Randal Grichuk, Tommy Pham, Dexter Fowler, and Jose Martinez are all candidates to be dealt this offseason as St. Louis gears up for another run at the postseason.
Sirius XM's Craig Mish reports that the Giants are also in on Ozuna, and may be interested in STL's Piscotty should the Cardinals gab Ozuna. In related Giants news, San Francisco is making progress on a deal for speedy Reds outfielder Billy Hamilton.
Original (2:00 PM ET): The Marlins are shopping outfielder Marcell Ozuna and reliever Junichi Tazawa at this year's Winter Meetings, according to FanRag's Jon Heyman. Miami is still looking to lower their payroll significantly, in line with their motives in both the Giancarlo Stanton and Dee Gordon trades:
Source: marlins are working to trade ozuna and tazawa to get to $85-90M payroll first. Can’t rule out continuing firesale after that but the first thing is to get payroll in order.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 12, 2017
Ozuna, 27, has emerged as one of baseball's most talented outfielders. After a monster .376/.548/.924 slash line in 2017, clubs are clamoring for the outfielder's services. Ozuna has defensive versatility, as well, and his offensive numbers have risen steadily across the board; His 64 BBs, 30 doubles, and 145 OPS+ last season were all career-highs. The two-time All-Star has been connected to the Blue Jays, Rockies, Nationals, Cardinals, and Giants so far, among others.
Jays and Rockies also among teams in on Ozuna (via @clarkspencer). Cards, nats, rangers also among the 6-8 teams.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 12, 2017
It's fair to assume a potential Ozuna deal would differ from Miami's previous deals this winter, in that the Dominican would command a hefty package of impact talent. Ozuna has two seasons of team control left before free agency, and MLB Trade Rumors predicts the left fielder will make around $10.9 million in salary arbitration this winter.
Miami may limit their prospect return for Ozuna, however, should they attempt to unload Tazawa's contract in the deal. In his age-31 season, Tazawa saw his numbers take a huge step back in 2017, pitching to a lackluster 5.69 ERA in 55 appearances with a career-high 3.6 BB/9.
Tazawa is owed the final $7 million of his two-year, $12 million deal in 2018, but clubs may simply see the reliever as dead weight. With all of Tazawa's peripherals headed in the wrong direction, the Marlins may have to eat to sit on Tarawa's money in 2018 before the veteran heads to free agency.
The New York Post's Joel Sherman reported that the market for Ozuna may be moving slowly due to a belief that outfielder Christian Yelich will also be dealt: