The fire sale continued Wednesday.
While in 2017, manager Mike Matheny constantly had to swap out players just to keep them all engaged, he won't have that option in 2018. Dexter Fowler, holder of a $82.5-million contract, will man center field, flanked by Tommy Pham, who finished 11th in NL MVP voting, and Osuna, who finished 15th.
So all those hopes you had for a Stephen Piscotty rebound or a Randal Grichuk home run binge or a Harrison Bader breakthrough or a Tyler O'Neill sighting are out the window now. Those players are either depth or trade bait. And don't even get me started on Jose Martinez, who's basically confined to first base at a time when the Cardinals don't seem to trust playing Matt Carpenter anywhere else.
That's possibly the biggest loss. Martinez isn't the most well-known of that group, but he thrived when given the opportunity to play every day down the stretch last season -- and in a way that appeared sustainable. His line-drive rate would have ranked fifth among qualifiers, according to FanGraphs, and his hard contact rate was on the level of Freddie Freeman. That's how a .350 BABIP comes to be.
All is not lost for Martinez, who could be like the second coming of Allen Craig for Cardinals fans. Carpenter did play more third base down the stretch, mostly for Martinez's benefit, and so maybe a flexible outfield won't even be necessary. But you'd prefer for a bona fide sleeper like him have to options, especially since we know Matheny will be looking for excuses to get Jedd Gyorko in the lineup.
As for Ozuna himself, I'm not sure he gains much of anything with this deal. The Marlins' lineup was actually better than the Cardinals' last season. Neither park is particularly good for home runs, but judging from Ozuna's splits, the venue may not matter much.
There are other concerns, such as a .355 BABIP that, unlike Martinez, the peripherals don't necessarily support, but I had already factored in those concerns when ranking Ozuna 13th among outfielders. And so that's where he'll remain.
The Marlins' return isn't going to have a great impact in the near term. The biggest pieces (and closest to being major league-ready) are Sandy Alcantara and Magneuris Sierra, who are both known in prospect circles -- and even debuted last year -- but haven't produced much in the minors. Alcantara has been clocked as high as 102 mph, but he'll need to improve his command and secondary arsenal to make good on that velocity. His dynasty league owners should be rooting for him to begin the year in the minors. Sierra could become a big base-stealer but is still developing that aspect of his game and is mostly regarded for his defense.