It remains to be seen whether Marcell Ozuna will stay in South Beach, but he apparently has the strong support of one very high-profile hitting coach.
The Marlins reportedly are open to dealing Ozuna, whose demotion to the minors last season sparked a public feud between agent Scott Boras and owner Jeffrey Loria. After a strong season in 2014, Ozuna regressed last season with a .259/.308/.383 slash line and 10 homers in 123 games.
In recent weeks, the outfielder has been prominently linked to the Rangers. Over the weekend, Texas assistant GM Thad Levine told Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio that while the sides have talked, the Rangers have not offered starting pitcher Chi Chi Gonzalez to the Marlins for Ozuna.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reported Sunday that up to 10 teams have inquired or have serious interest in Ozuna, “but Marlins executives are getting pushback from new hitting coach Barry Bonds and manager Don Mattingly, feeling they can shape Ozuna into a 30/30 performer.”
This adds an intriguing layer to the Ozuna saga. Earlier in the offseason, one executive told ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick that Loria “can’t stand the guy.” Will he put those feelings aside and keep Ozuna on the recommendation of Mattingly and his inexperienced hitting coach? Stay tuned.
Our rumors roundup continues with more speculation out of South Florida:
Wei-Yin Chen: Despite their public spat with Boras, the Marlins are showing interest in another of his clients, although the price may be prohibitive, reports Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com. While Chen’s five-year, $100 million asking price has turned teams away, Cafardo says the Nationals and Cardinals “have taken a good hard look.”
Wilmer Flores: The New York Mets signed free agent Asdrubal Cabrera last month, a deal that leaves Flores and Ruben Tejada as backups at shortstop. The White Sox and Padres are still exploring shortstop options, and Phil Rogers of MLB.com asks if there is a deal to be made for Flores to relieve the logjam. A signature moment of the 2015 season was Flores shedding tears after thinking the Mets had traded him to Milwaukee, a deal that fell apart.
St. Louis Cardinals: According to multiple reports out of Korea, the Cardinals are close to a deal with Korean right-hander Seung-Hwan Oh, who is a standout reliever. The 33-year-old had 41 saves this past season for the Hanshin Tigers in Japan and has 357 saves in his pro career. Nicknamed “Stone Buddha” and “The Final Boss,” Oh would be a setup option in front of closer Trevor Rosenthal, reports Derrick Goold of the Post Dispatch.
Hanley Ramirez: The Red Sox appear ready to enter spring training with Ramirez as their primary first baseman after his disastrous 2015 season in left field. If president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski planned to move Ramirez, he would have done so already, says Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. The market for free-agent position players also has been less lucrative than expected, making it next to impossible to shop Ramirez as a less-expensive option.
Sonny Gray: Athletics executive VP Billy Beane told MLB Network Radio he has rebuffed several teams who have inquired about his staff ace. “We were adamant that we wanted to hold on to Sonny,” Beane said Sunday. “I don’t think any GM can ever say, ‘This is never gonna happen.’ That being said, we have resisted some pretty aggressive suitors this winter.” The Atlanta Braves were credited with landing a huge haul of talent in the trade for Shelby Miller, leading to speculation that the A’s could consider a similar type of deal with Gray.
R.A. Dickey: Jeff Blair of SportsNet.ca tweeted that the Blue Jays would be willing to deal the knuckleballer in order to clear a spot in their rotation. ESPN’s Buster Olney says a deal is unlikely, in part because an acquiring team would have to have a catcher who can catch a knuckleball.
Roberto Perez: Several teams have asked about Perez, but the Indians are “very reluctant” to deal the 27-year-old because of their lack of catching prospects in the minors, reports Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer. Perez hit just .228 as the backup to Yan Gomes but had a .751 OPS and threw out 39 percent of stealing baserunners, the best mark in the majors.