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Marlins continue fire sale by trading Marcell Ozuna

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Marlins continue fire sale by trading Marcell Ozuna

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Miami has agreed to trade left fielder Marcell Ozuna to the St. Louis Cardinals, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press, the third All-Star jettisoned by the Marlins this month in an unrelenting payroll purge under new CEO Derek Jeter.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Wednesday because the agreement had not been announced and was subject to a physical.

"Ozuna is one of those names that you have to have great respect, especially as much we see him," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said at the winter meetings. "We're at that necessary point of talking through health always, no matter what the player is. It's not just a formality."

An All-Star the past two seasons, the 27-year-old Ozuna set career bests this season with a .312 average, 37 homers and 124 RBIs. He is eligible for salary arbitration and likely will earn more than $10 million. He can become a free agent after the 2019 season.

Miami traded second baseman Dee Gordon to Seattle last Thursday for three prospects and dealt right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, the reigning NL MVP, to the New York Yankees on Monday for second baseman Starlin Castro and two prospects. The Cardinals had a deal in place for Stanton last week, but he invoked his no-trade clause and blocked the move.

"I was just very impressed the fact that we were involved in those conversations," Matheny said. "Unfortunately, that didn't work, but I think that just kind of parlayed into, OK, now what are we going to do?"

Ozuna likely will be in the outfielder with Dexter Fowler and Tommy Pham. St. Louis could trade right fielder Stephen Piscotty.

Matheny wouldn't commit to an alignment.

"Something we're appreciative of is the humility of our players to maybe go to a spot where they haven't been before," he said. "You go in with your ideals of what you would like to see, and you're going to have to be flexible."

Center fielder Christian Yelich could be the next to exit the downsizing Marlins, bought by Bruce Sherman's group on Oct. 2.

Miami had a $116 million payroll on Aug. 31, up from $81 million at the end of last year, and is intent on reducing obligations. Stanton was owed $295 million over the next decade, and Gordon $38 million through 2020.

Phillies can't overcome Marlins' power during loss in series opener

Phillies can't overcome Marlins' power during loss in series opener

BOX SCORE

MIAMI – The Phillies were overpowered on Monday night.

Granted, the winning run for the Miami Marlins in a 6-5 walk-off victory was a single in the 10th inning by the unimposing Dee Gordon (see Instant Replay).

But it was before that.

It happened two batters into the bottom of the first and again in the third – twice – two home runs by Giancarlo Stanton and one by Justin Bour.

While the Phillies hit no home runs and had a walk by Cesar Hernandez that keyed their big third-inning, four-run rally, the Marlins posed in front of a mirror and flexed their muscles like baseball’s version of Arnold Schwarzenegger (or Saturday Night Live’s Hans and Franz).

You know … “We want to pump you up.”

“Everyone knows about them,” Hernandez said of Stanton and Bour. “They were in the Home Run Derby, and they were there because they hit so many shots.”

The Phillies, meanwhile, rank 28th out of 30 teams with 92 homers.

Nobody on the Phillies has more than 15 homers. The Marlins, who are just 23rd in the majors in long balls, have three players – Stanton, Bour and Marcell Ozuna – who each have more than 20.

Stanton has 28 homers, which leads the National League and is second in the majors behind New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge, who has 30.

Ozuna and Stanton were All-Stars this year, and Bour went mano a mano against Judge in a dramatic Home Run Derby.

And as the Phillies (30-61) rebuild their roster, it would be nice if they can find more thump throughout their lineup. They had just six hits in 10 innings on Monday, and only three of those were for extra bases, two doubles by rookie Nick Williams and one by Freddy Galvis.

Of the Phillies’ top 10 prospects at the start of this season, eight of them were hitters, including Williams. So maybe those thumpers are on the way.

The Phillies could have used one in the eighth. With one out and the score tied 5-5, the Phillies had the bases loaded but failed to score. Both Brock Stassi (fastball) and pinch hitter Daniel Nava (curveball) were caught looking at strike three on pitches by reliever David Phelps.

“Another one-run loss,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin lamented. “We battled.”

The battle ended in the 10th. With one out, Derek Dietrich hit a long ball to the wall in right field. Late-game substitution Ty Kelly couldn’t grab it, crashing into the wall on his attempt as Dietrich legged out a triple. The Phillies walked two batters intentionally to get to a pinch hitter, backup catcher A.J. Ellis. After Ellis hit into a fielder’s choice, Gordon drove a pitch to right field for the winner.

Gordon, the sixth batter due up in the inning, was in the clubhouse watching video and didn’t think he would have an at-bat. But when Phillies reliever Mark Leiter, Jr. – who was demoted to the minors after taking the loss – gave up the triple, things changed quickly.

“It was chaotic for a second because those intentional walks happen quickly,” Gordon said. “I didn’t even have my batting gloves on when I ran to the on-deck circle.”

Gordon slapped the gloves on quickly and delivered a line-drive single to right for Miami’s fourth walk-off of the season and its first since June 19. Stanton, by the way, nearly hit a third homer. But his high drive to deep left-center was caught by leftfielder Cameron Perkins, who jumped just a bit higher than centerfielder Odubel Herrera to make the grab up against the wall. After the catch, Herrera fell on top of Perkins.

The Marlins nearly ended the game in the bottom of the ninth.

With the bases loaded and one out, Miami had its first chance for a walk-off win. But closer Hector Neris, inheriting Ricardo Pinto’s mess, struck out Christian Yelich. Ozuna then hit a line drive off Neris’ body. The ball bounced to first baseman Tommy Joseph for the inning-ending out.

The Phillies’ bullpen, which allowed one run in 3 2/3 innings, was better than starter Jerad Eickhoff, who was mostly ineffective.

Eickhoff took a no-decision in his second start after coming off the disabled list with a back injury. He allowed five runs in six innings. He struck out eight but walked four and gave up those three homers.

“The Bour [home run] was the most frustrating one,” Eickhoff said. “I should have managed that inning better.”

Phillies' reported interest in Dee Gordon makes no sense

Phillies' reported interest in Dee Gordon makes no sense

The Phillies are in Miami this week, and if recent reports are any indication, some Marlins could soon be in Philly.

Dee Gordon is the latest Marlin connected to the Phillies.

According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Phillies and Blue Jays have "sincere interest" in Gordon.

Huh???

Gordon would be an extremely odd fit here. The Phillies already have two young second basemen they like in Cesar Hernandez and Scott Kingery. Positions aside, adding another speedy player who lacks power and doesn't walk much is not a great path to upgrading to your offense.

Here's my interpretation of this report: It seems to have come from the Marlins since the news about Gordon is accompanied by 10 teams' interest in reliever David Phelps. Seems like a team trying to drum up interest in its own guys.

The Phillies are interested in Christian Yelich and have reportedly kicked around the idea of assuming Giancarlo Stanton's contract as part of a trade with the Marlins (see story). If Gordon's name came up in one of those conversations, then technically he'd be a player the Phillies have shown interest in.

The Marlins are also probably trying to get out from under Gordon's contract. It's not enormous, but $37 million over the next three seasons for a decent player on a team that constantly reloads and fails to draw fans to the ballpark is a lot. Miami could accomplish that goal by attaching Gordon to a Yelich trade, though it would detract from the prospect package it receives in return.

Yelich talks 'heating up'
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reported separately that the Phils' interest in Yelich is "heating up."

"A few weeks back we wrote about the resources the Phillies have to be active in trades or free agency," Cafardo wrote Sunday. "We mentioned the possibility of them taking on Giancarlo Stanton’s contract while also having interest in Christian Yelich. Well, the Yelich part is heating up. There are conflicting stories on whether the Marlins have the OK to trade away major talent as the franchise is being sold, but it looks like the Phillies will pursue this."

Yelich is a good player on a great contract who does a solid job of controlling the strike zone. But he's not exactly a game-changer. He's a .292 lifetime hitter, and last season he hit 21 homers and 38 doubles while slugging .483. But during the rest of his career, he's slugged just .407.

Really, the best thing about Yelich is his contract. He's owed $44.5 million from 2018-21 and has a 2022 club option worth $15 million. But a team with as little proven talent and as much open payroll space as the Phillies should be more concerned with adding the best players possible rather than seeking the most bang for their buck.